Restless Classics presents an undersung gem of the Harlem Renaissance Nella Larsen's Passing, a captivating and prescient exploration of identity, sexuality, belonging, self-invention, and race set amidst the pealing boisterousness of the Jazz Age. When childhood friends Clare Kendry and Irene Redfield come across each other at a white-only restaurant, Irene learns her estranged friend has severed all ties to their African American community and is now married to a bigoted white man unaware of her heritage. Swinging between allure and repulsion, their revived relationship becomes a stage upon which questions of identity, sexuality, belonging, and self-invention play out. Abrim with stifled desires, Nella Larsen's searing portrait of these women's inner cadences straddles the edges of things--communities, identities, races, and speech--and ultimately lands somewhere absolute and subversive: a place that defies categorization.
About the Author
Nella Larsen was born Nellie Walker in 1891 in Chicago. Her mother was a Danish immigrant and her father an immigrant from the Danish West Indies. Larsen attended school in all white environments in Chicago until she moved to Nashville to attend high school. Larsen later practiced nursing, and from 1922 to 1926, served as a librarian at the New York Public Library. After resigning from this position, Larsen began her literary career by writing her first novel, Quicksand (1928), which won her the Harmon Foundation's bronze medal. After the publication of her second novel, Passing (1929), Larsen was awarded the first Guggenheim Fellowship given to an African American woman, establishing her as a premier novelist of the Harlem Renaissance. Nella Larsen died in New York in 1964. Darryl Pinckney, a longtime contributor to The New York Review of Books, is the author of two novels, Black Deutschland and High Cotton, and two works of nonfiction, Blackballed: The Black Vote and US Democracy and Out There: Mavericks of Black Literature. He has also collaborated with Robert Wilson on theater projects, most recently an adaption of Daniil Kharm's The Old Woman. He lives in New York. Maggie/Malachi Lily is a shapeshifting, black, nonbinary artist and moth from Philadelphia, PA. Seeking to combat our present day cravings for instant gratification and toxic individualism, they create works of art, literature, and programming that resonate spiritual light. They hope their work causes you to want to curl up in the sun and ponder, ideally with a cat.