In search of Nella Larsen : a biography of the color line / George Hutchinson.

Born to a Danish seamstress and a black West Indian cook in one of the Western Hemisphereʾs most infamous vice districts, Nella Larsen (1891-1964) lived her life in the shadows of Americaʾs racial divide. She wrote about that life, was briefly celebrated in her time, then was lost to later generatio...

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Bibliographic Details
Main Author: Hutchinson, George.
Format: Book
Published: Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this biography of novelist Nella Larsen, Hutchinson (The Harlem Renaissance in Black and White) explores her work, life and place in social history, positing that the reason for Larsen's shadowy status as a writer of the Harlem Renaissance is tied to the shifting color line in American society. Larsen, whose mother was a Danish immigrant and whose father was a black laborer, identified with her blackness yet also confronted and struggled with prejudice within the Harlem literary community. She eventually withdrew from her friends and colleagues and pursued a successful career as a nurse. Cracking open the few authoritative narratives on Larsen, Hutchinson finds a noteworthy theme: "As I read these books, I recognized a pattern not atypical of the way children from interracial families had often been misunderstood and-there is no other word for it-pathologized." Not only does he put forth a correct and complete narrative of Larsen's life, but he also uses Larsen's story as a mixed-race woman of the Harlem Renaissance to portray the lasting issues of race and color politics from then until now. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.