‘Romance in Marseille’ a classic by Claude McKay

Buried in the archives for nearly ninety years, Romance in Marseille by Claude McKay traces the adventures of a rowdy troop of dockers, prostitutes and political organizers – collectively straight and homosexual, disabled and able-bodied, Africans, Europeans, Caribbean and Americans. Set largely in the Old Port of Marseille, a mixture of cultures, at the height of the jazz age, the novel takes off with Lafala, a seriously disabled but suddenly rich West African sailor. While boarding a transatlantic freighter, Lafala is discovered and locked in a freezing cupboard. Severely frozen by the time the boat docks, the once nimble dancer loses both of his lower legs, emerging from a rescue operation as what he calls “a man amputee.” Thanks to an unlikely successful lawsuit against the shipping company, however, Lafala scores big in the litigious United States. Feeling red after his legal payment, Lafala returns to Marseille and resumes his trans-African liaison with Aslima, a Moroccan courtesan. With its scenes of black bodies struggling for pleasure and freedom even when stolen, shipped, and sold for parts, McKay’s novel explores the legacy of slavery in a ruthless modern economy. This very first edition of Romance in Marseille includes an introduction by McKay academics Gary Edward Holcomb and William J. Maxwell which places the novel both in the “stowaway era” of black cultural politics and in the difficult career of McKay as a Harlem star and skeptic. Renaissance.

This Classic Penguin, Romance in Marseille is now available on www.blackbookstore.com

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