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home to harlem no dw Home To Harlem by Claude McKay. New York. 1928. Harper & Brothers. 340 pages.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   Jake is on the run. After serving overseas with the U. S. Army, he goes AWOL and makes his own way back home to Harlem. Back to the life he had before. Back to the basement joints, pool rooms and rent parties. Back to brown breasts throbbing with love and brown lips full and pouted for sweet kissing. No hero's welcome awaits him. Only the same hard-drinking, hard-living scrabble for love and a home that he left behind. In this world of gamblers, loan sharks, lonely women and rivals in love, Jake seems to have it all. But the women of Harlem aren't the only ones keen to make this fine-looking soldier their man. Uncle Sam wants him too!.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

McKay Claude Claude McKay was a Jamaican writer and communist. He was part of the Harlem Renaissance and wrote three novels: Home to Harlem, a best-seller which won the Harmon Gold Award for Literature, Banjo, and Banana Bottom McKay also authored a collection of short stories, Gingertown, and two autobiographical books, A Long Way from Home and Harlem: Negro Metropolis His book of poetry, Harlem Shadows was among the first books published during the Harlem Renaissance. His book of collected poems, Selected Poems, was published posthumously. Born in James Hill, Clarendon, Jamaica, McKay was the youngest in the family. His father, Thomas McKay, was a peasant, but had enough property to qualify to vote. Claude McKay came to the attention of Walter Jekyll, who helped him publish his first book of poems, Songs of Jamaica, in 1912. These were the first poems published in Patois He was educated by his elder brother. McKay's next volume, Constab Ballads, came out the same year and were based on his experience as a police officer in Jamaica. He also left for the U. S. that year, going to Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Institute. McKay was shocked by the intense racism he encountered in Charleston, South Carolina, where many public facilities were segregated. Disliking the 'semi-military, machinelike existence there', McKay quickly left to study at Kansas State University. His political involvement dates from these days. He also read W. E. B. Du Bois' Souls of Black Folk, which had a major impact on him. Despite doing well in exams, in 1914 McKay decided he did not want to be an agronomist and went to New York, where he married his childhood sweetheart Eulalie Lewars. However, she grew weary of life in New York and returned to Jamaica in six months. McKay had two poems published in 1917 in Seven Arts under the pseudonym Eli Edwards. However, McKay continued to work as a waiter on the railways. In 1919 he met Crystal and Max Eastman, who produced The Liberator It was here that he published one of his most famous poems, 'If We Must Die', during the 'Red Summer', a period of intense racial violence against black people in Anglo-American societies. This was among a page of his poetry which signaled the commencement of his life as a professional writer. During McKay's time with The Liberator, he had affairs with both men and women, including Waldo Frank and Edward Arlington Robinson. Details on his relationships are few. McKay became involved with a group of black radicals who were unhappy both with Marcus Garvey's nationalism and the middle class reformist NAACP. These included the African Caribbeans Cyril Briggs, Richard B. Moore and Wilfrid Domingo. They fought for black self-determination within the context of socialist revolution. Together they founded the semi-secret revolutionary organisation, the African Blood Brotherhood. McKay soon left for London, England. Hubert Harrison had asked McKay to write for Garvey's Negro World, but only a few copies of the paper have survived from this period, none of which contain any articles by McKay. He used to frequent a soldier's club in Drury Lane and the International Socialist Club in Shoreditch. It was during this period that McKay's commitment to socialism deepened and he read Marx assiduously. At the International Socialist Club, McKay met Shapurji Saklatvala, A. J. Cook, Guy Aldred, Jack Tanner, Arthur McManus, William Gallacher, Sylvia Pankhurst and George Lansbury. He was soon invited to write for the Workers' Dreadnought. In 1920 the Daily Herald, a socialist paper published by George Lansbury, included a racist article written by E. D. Morel. Entitled 'Black Scourge in Europe: Sexual Horror Let Loose by France on the Rhine', it insinuated gross hypersexuality on African people in general, but Lansbury refused to print McKay's response. This response then appeared in Workers' Dreadnought. This started his regular involvement with Workers' Dreadnought and the Workers' Socialist Federation, a Council Communist group active in the East End and which had a majority of women involved in it at all levels of the organisation. He became a paid journalist for the paper; some people claim he was the first black journalist in Britain. He attended the Communist Unity Conference which established the Communist Party of Great Britain. At this time he also had some of his poetry published in the Cambridge Magazine, edited by C. K. Ogden. When Sylvia Pankhurst was arrested under the Defence of the Realm Act for publishing articles 'calculated and likely to cause sedition amongst His Majesty's forces, in the Navy, and among the civilian population,' McKay had his rooms searched. He is likely to have been the author of 'The Yellow peril and the Dockers' attributed to Leon Lopez, which was one of the articles cited by the government in its case against the Workers' Dreadnought. In 1928 McKay published his most famous novel, Home to Harlem, which won the Harmon Gold Award for Literature. The novel, which depicted street life in Harlem, would have a major impact on black intellectuals in the Caribbean, West Africa, and Europe. Despite this, the book drew fire from one of McKay's heroes, W. E. B. Du Bois. To Du Bois, the novel's frank depictions of sexuality and the nightlife in Harlem only appealed to the 'prurient demand[s]' of white readers and publishers looking for portrayals of black 'licentiousness. ' As Du Bois said, 'Home to Harlem. for the most part nauseates me, and after the dirtier parts of its filth I feel distinctly like taking a bath. ' Modern critics now dismiss this criticism from Du Bois, who was more concerned with using art as propaganda in the struggle for African American political liberation than in the value of art to showcase the truth about the lives of black people. McKay's other novels were Banjo, and Banana Bottom McKay also authored a collection of short stories, Gingertown, and two autobiographical books, A Long Way from Home and Harlem: Negro Metropolis His book of collected poems, Selected Poems, was published posthumously. Becoming disillusioned with communism, McKay embraced the social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and was baptized. He died from a heart attack at the age of 59.

 


 


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