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The Wedding

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Dorothy West, one generation removed from slavery, wrote a quarter century of fiction for the New York Daily News and is one of the last surviving members of the Harlem Renaissance of the ’20s and ’30s. When her 1948 novel, The Living Is Easy, was berated for failing to attack racism, West responded, ”I’m a creative writer, I’m not a black with a chip on my shoulder.” In The Wedding, about a Martha’s Vineyard enclave of 1950s bourgeois blacks, West brilliantly portrays the ferocity of class, race, and gender distinctions within families, groups, and generations. Her melodramatics are only the framework for her prodigiously stirring insights into the humor, beauty, and agony of a world few of us, black or white, ever knew existed. A