Claude McKay’s Lost Novel

Colin Grant at the NYRB:

Claude McKay, France, 1928

The peripatetic writer Claude McKay was born in Jamaica in 1889 but made in Harlem. As he wrote in his memoir, A Long Way from Home (1937), nothing came close to its “hot syncopated fascination.” His time there was heady and fortuitous. It was a period, recalled Langston Hughes, “when the Negro was in vogue,” and a number of competitors battled for the souls of black folk. They included wealthy, exotic-seeking white voyeurs and Afrophilic benefactors; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which aimed to marshal the arts into the service of civil rights; the Universal Negro Improvement Association, Marcus Garvey’s pan-Africanist back-to-Africa movement; and the Communists, who, in opposition to Garvey’s “race first” doctrine, argued that the working class, no matter their color, should put “class first.”

more here.

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