‘She wished to find out about this hazardous business of “passing,” this breaking away from all that was familiar and friendly to take one’s chance in another environment…’
The elegant Clare Kendry glides through New York’s high-society circles with ease, until the day she is reacquainted with her childhood friend, Irene. Clare chooses to ‘pass’ as white, hiding her African American heritage from her bigoted husband, while Irene leads a life that embraces it. As both women observe the other, a relationship of mutual fascination, obsession and secrets begins, one that will end in devastating circumstances.
Published in 1929, Nella Larsen’s Passing lays bare the complexities of identity, race, class and gender. The novella established Larsen as one of the most important female authors in American literature and is considered a literary masterpiece of the Harlem Renaissance era.