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Passing by Nella Larsen
By: (1891-1964)

Passing by Nella Larsen is a profound and thought-provoking novel that delves into issues of race, identity, and belonging. The story follows the lives of two childhood friends, Clare Kendry and Irene Redfield, who are both African American women but live very different lives. Clare passes as white and is able to move seamlessly between the white and black communities, while Irene chooses to embrace her black identity.

The novel explores the complexities of passing and the internal struggles that come with trying to navigate different worlds. Larsen does an excellent job of capturing the nuances of race and the ways in which societal expectations and prejudices shape individual experiences. The characters are well-developed and their motivations are presented in a nuanced and realistic way.

What makes Passing such a compelling read is the psychological depth with which Larsen approaches the themes of race and identity. The tension between Clare and Irene is palpable throughout the novel, and their complex relationship sheds light on the ways in which race can affect friendship and social dynamics.

Overall, Passing is a powerful and poignant novel that raises important questions about race, identity, and the ways in which we define ourselves and others. Larsen's writing is evocative and engaging, making this a must-read for anyone interested in exploring these important themes.

Book Description:
Nella Larsen, a writer of the Harlem Renaissance, wrote two brilliant novels that interrogated issues of gender and race. In Passing, her second novel published in 1929, she examines the troubled friendship between two mixed-race women who can pass as white. One, Irene Redfield, marries a black man and lives in Harlem, while the other, Clare Kendry, marries a bigoted white man. Clare re-enters Irene's life after an absence of many years, and stirs up painful questions about identity. (Introduction by Elizabeth Klett)

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