The Complete Fiction of Nella Larsen: Passing, Quicksand, and The Stories
by Nella Larsen
In The Complete Fiction of Nella Larsen, whose career flamed brightly but briefly in the 1920s, we rediscover one of the most gifted writers of the Harlem Renaissance.
Nella Larsen’s subject is the struggle of sensitive, spirited heroines to find a place for themselves in a hostile world. Passing (originally published in 1929,) Passing tells the troublesome relationship between two African-American woman who are light enough to pass for white. Irene Redfield marries an African-American doctor and moves to Harlem. Clare Kendy, on the other hand, marries a bigoted white man — never telling him of her true heritage. When the two women meet, after decades of separation, they impact each other lives in ways that neither would have imagined.
Quicksand, Larsen’s first novel (1928) tells the story of a restless young mulatto tries desperately to find a comfortable place in a world in which she sees herself as a perpetual outsider. Race and marriage offer few securities here or in the other stories in a collection that is compellingly readable, rich in psychological complexity, and imbued with a sense of place that brings Harlem vibrantly to life.