July 28, 2016

Looking Back - The Blacker the Berry

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

The Blacker the Berry by Wallace Thurman
1996 Scribner (First published in 1929)
Finished on July 30, 1996
Rating: 2/5 (OK)

Publisher's Blurb:

One of the most widely read and controversial works of the Harlem Renaissance, The Blacker the Berry...was the first novel to openly explore prejudice within the Black community. This pioneering novel found a way beyond the bondage of Blackness in American life to a new meaning in truth and beauty.

Emma Lou Brown's dark complexion is a source of sorrow and humiliation -- not only to herself, but to her lighter-skinned family and friends and to the white community of Boise, Idaho, her home-town. As a young woman, Emma travels to New York's Harlem, hoping to find a safe haven in the Black Mecca of the 1920s. Wallace Thurman re-creates this legendary time and place in rich detail, describing Emma's visits to nightclubs and dance halls and house-rent parties, her sex life and her catastrophic love affairs, her dreams and her disillusions -- and the momentous decision she makes in order to survive.

A lost classic of Black American literature, The Blacker the Berry...is a compelling portrait of the destructive depth of racial bias in this country. A new introduction by Shirlee Taylor Haizlip, author of The Sweeter the Juice, highlights the timelessness of the issues of race and skin color in America.

My Original Notes (1996):

Not the greatest book. Somewhat dull. Didn't care for the main character at all. Wouldn't recommend.

My Current Thoughts:

I think I chose to read The Wedding (Dorothy West) and this book in an effort to learn a little bit about the Harlem Renaissance. Unfortunately, neither book appealed to me. I might have enjoyed them more had I read them in a literature class or for a book club, as I think they would both benefit from discussion with others.


  1. I think it's great that you do these postings. There's a wonderful wikipedia article on the HR - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlem_Renaissance. I have read Langston Hughes only. For me, it is the music rather than the literature that I love so much.

    1. Nan, thanks for the link to the wiki article. Yes, the music is wonderful, isn't it. Thanks for your sweet words about these posts. I'm enjoying looking back on what I've read in the past and trying not to worry about not writing more in-depth "reviews."


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