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3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  10,819 Ratings  ·  700 Reviews
The beautiful, elegant, and ambitious Clare Kendry leads a dangerous life. A light-skinned African American married to a white man unaware of her racial heritage, Clare has severed all ties to her past to become part of white, middle-class society. Clare's childhood friend, Irene Redfield, as light-skinned as Clare, has chosen to remain within the African-American communit ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published September 1st 1997 by Penguin Classics (first published 1929)
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Vanessa I think so. There is clearly the subtext of some marital problems that they may or may not fully understand, but there are no language issues (I mean,…moreI think so. There is clearly the subtext of some marital problems that they may or may not fully understand, but there are no language issues (I mean, other than racial pejoratives, it is a novel about race.) It's short too, so the story gets where it's going quickly. (less)
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Elijah Kinch Spector
[Cross-posted on my blog, and accompanied by pretty much the best author photo I've ever seen.]

First of all, please, for God's sake, if you're thinking of reading The Help, just fucking stop yourself and read something that's about the actual effects of real racism on real people, and not engineered to make white people feel good about themselves. In Passing, even many of the most enlightened folks carry some bigotry around, and the most horribly racist character is still, terrifyingly enough, a
Huzzah for neat seguing of plot pulse and theme! This one proves to be a much better outing than Quicksand because it relies on dialogue and interactions between characters to gradually disclose its cleverly withheld secrets. Till the very end Larsen successfully kept me guessing at the hidden fears, ambitions and motivations that drive Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry - two light-skinned black women who subscribe to different forms of morally ambiguous survivalist ideology to counter the omnipre ...more
Nella Larson (1891-1964) was born in Chicago to mixed race parents. Her mother was Danish and her father was Afro-Caribbean, also with a mixed race heritage. So Nella was caught in between worlds, not quite white, not quite black, so it was natural for her to write of her life experiences. And that's what she does in Passing (1929). The story is set in Harlem and revolves around two women, Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry, both light skinned, one secure and happy, accepting her racial identity, t ...more
Apr 12, 2015 Dem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Passing is a novel by American author Nella Larsen. Published in 1929 and set in 1920s Harlem, New York City. The plot centers on the meeting of two childhood friends of mixed-race African-American ancestry.
Clare Kendry and Irene Redfiel are friends from old and a chance meeting sees them rekindle a forgotten friendship. The title ( Passing) and central theme of the novel refer to the practice of racial "passing"; Clare Kendry's passing as white with her white husband, Jack Bellew, is feature

My rating of this book has been compromised by my extremely recent previous reading of Larsen's magnificent Quicksand, it's true. Take it as one of those times where the scale depends solely on the capabilities of the sole author herself, rather than being one carefully calibrated across all of whom I've read. If the latter were the case, I would have to downgrade a great deal of other works read previously to this; as I have neither the time nor inclination for such things, simply take my
Aug 31, 2015 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
(4.0) I've had to cogitate on this for a while to see if I could come up with something to encompass my feelings on this book. Comparatively speaking, coming from a man of Caucasian descent in America, could I truly know what it felt like to be someone of color at this time? At any time? With that said, I must say…

Passing. Now that’s a term, in its current context, I wasn't familiar with. The fact that people literally had to pass as another race to be accepted is beyond me, but the color of one
Judging by the fact that this book has an introduction by the awesome Ntozake Shange, extensive notes and a detailed critical foreward by Mae Henderson loaded with references to related books and other critics who have written on Larsen, and that Bitch magazine devoted a feature to the book in their early 2015 issue, Passing has only become, if anything, increasingly relevant over the decades since its publication in 1929. The explanatory power of the concept of 'passing' has been utilised to ma ...more
She was caught between two allegiances, different, yet the same. Herself. Her race. Race! The thing that bound and suffocated her. Whatever steps she took, or if she took none at all, something would be crushed. A person or the race. Clare, herself, or the race. Or, it might be, all three. Nothing, she imagined, was ever more completely sardonic.

Passing, in my reading, is a book on identity. First those identities which are public, which we perform and act out. Then those identities which we ign
Nov 25, 2010 Pamela rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Pamela by: Roberta Johnson
"Passing" by Nella Larsen was a very poignant and powerful read. It explores the concept of passing which is basically pretending to be someone you're not for your own personal, selfish gain. Ms. Larsen's achieves this through her two main characters, both African-American women, Irene and Clare.
Irene was born African-American, and she grows up to marry a successful African-American doctor. As a result, she chooses to stay within the African-American community, and she only "passes" when it's co
Dec 11, 2015 Chrissie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was very good! It grabs your attention. It keeps you guessing from the first page to the last. It gives interesting perspectives on the concept of "passing" as a White. Great dialogs. No, more than great, exceptional! It moves quickly, and when it ends it leaves you thinking. This is a classic that is worth reading. It says a lot in a few words. It packs a punch.

Excellent audiobook narration by Robin Miles.

There is an exception to every rule. This was short and I liked it a lot.
When James Baldwin said that: "The idea of racial progress in America is measured by how fast I become white", he hit upon the issue at the core of Passing; the narrative focuses on two women trying their damnedest to ignore the ways they are mistreated because they are black. Clare insists on passing for white, and it sends her identity into limbo. To her, the price of being black is poverty, limited options and an unfulfilled life, and the price of passing is self loathing, alienation, an
I've been fooled twice now into thinking Nella Larsen isn't a great writer. She is. She controls her story perfectly; she gives you exactly the information you need at exactly the right time. Her stories are carefully constructed, each one building steadily towards a wallop. They make a huge impact. There's no fat, nothing that doesn't exactly need to be there.

There's a six-floor walkup in one scene of Passing; the characters complain about it, and one makes a racial comment about it. It's ther
May 27, 2016 Majenta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: friends
PASSING gets an above-passing grade. It was on my TBR list for so long that I'm not sure why I might have wanted to read it, but I'm glad I got through it and...yeah, I'm glad I read it.
Ebtihal Abuali
هذه واحدة من نوعية القصص التي لا يحدث فيها شيء تقريبا. انها تنمو وتكشف فكرتها من خلال الحوارات وتطور اتجاه العلاقات بين الشخصيات القليلة التي لا تكف عن اللقاء لشرب الشاي او الذهاب للحفلات، وهو نمط من السرد متكرر بين ما قرأت في الادب الامريكي وعلى الارجح يقول شيئا عن عادات المجتمع في ذلك الوقت (اوائل القرن العشرين). الموضوع جديد بالنسبة لي: الزنوج ذوي البشرة البيضاء الذين يحاولون "العبور" الى الضفة الاخرى والعيش كبيض.

ومن خلال هذه الاحاديث نعرف ماضي كلير التي عبرت في وقت ما، تزوجت بأبيض وعاشت بعيد
May 13, 2016 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2016
Passing for straight.
Passing for married.
Mostly, passing for happy.

And passing for white. Whatever white is.
فهد الفهد

تكتب نيلا لارسن وبتركيز شديد - يفسد الكتاب برأيي - عن موضوعة (العبور) – أفضل مفردة التسلل -، أي انتقال أفراد من زواجات مختلطة (بيض وزنوج) للعيش في مجتمعات بيضاء، تحت ستار لونهم الأبيض، ومن دون الاعتراف أبداً بأصولهم ودمائهم السوداء، أو كما سماها فيليب روث (وصمتهم البشرية)، وفيليب روث برأيي من أفضل من تطرقوا لهذا الموضوع في رائعته (الوصمة البشرية)، والتي يعرض فيها ساخراً حالة دكتور جامعي عابر ينتهي متهماً بالعنصرية ضد السود، يا للسخرية!! نيلا لارسن هنا تجعل الموضوعة هاجساً لأبطالها، فالبطلة ع
Jan 15, 2016 *nawaf rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
من المهم في هذه الرواية قراءة مقدمتها قبل البدء بها، والتي كتبها المترجم علي المجنوني لأنها توضح الحقبة الزمنية والأوضاع التي رافقت كتابة الرواية ، إذ أنها كُتبت في نهاية عشرينيات القرن الماضي ، في عصر كلن يسوده التفريق العنصري بناءً على اللون واختلاط الأعراق والألوان.
لن تتركز الرواية حول قضية معينة يجعلها تأتي في قالب مركز فالأحداث قليلة والزمن قصير نسبيًا ، حيث تدور الرواية حول آيرين ردفيلد وصديقتها كلير كندري وهم ضمن الفئة المولودة من زواج مختلط ولكنها اكتسبت البشرة البيضاء وملامحهم وما يعان
Fatima Saeed
Jun 29, 2016 Fatima Saeed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
لابد من الإقرار أن النتاج الأدبي الأصيل الذي عمل على تقديم الإنسان وتعقيدات حياته سيبقى مع البشرية حتى وإن مضى وقت طويل عليه، وليس أبلغ من ذلك استنادنا الا على الأدب الاغريقي والروسي حتى اليوم وبصورة شائعة جداً لا يمكن إنكارها.

يقول المترجم علي المجنوني عن رواية زنج أن: "العنوان الذي صدرت به الرواية يشير الى (العبور العرقي)، وهو في أبسط صوره ادعاء فرد من عرقٍ ما انتماءه الى عرقٍ آخر أوفر حظاً وأحرى أن يتمتع المنتمون اليه بمزايا سياسية واقتصادية واجتماعية يسعون الى احتكارها دون غيرهم"

ما أعجبني في
Jul 10, 2015 Bloodorange rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: us, modernism, audiobooks
A short novel about a concept so alien today to the white, non-American community that it's absolutely worth reading for its subject matter. It is a tad poetic, but not too much so; abruptly ending, but providing, to my mind, a sufficient sense of closure; the dialogues are fine, the situations feel realistic; the only thing I felt dissatisfied with were the characters.

The perceptiveness of Irene, the protagonist, her insecurities, her perception of herself as mother and wife make her very easy
Abeer Saleh
"العبور" هو انتماء فرد من عرق ما, لعرق آخر يفوقه في الامتيازات, وفي الحالة الأميركية فالعبور غالبًا يعني انتماء الفرد الأسود ذا البشرة الفاتحة (نتيجة التزاوج بين الطبقتين), لطبقة البيض ذات الامتيازات الكثيرة, و غالبًا لا يحكم على الشخص إلا بلون بشرته.

هنا, تحاول نيلا أن تتناول مسألة "العبور" التي لايعرف بالضبط عدد أفرادها على مر السنوات, وتسقطها على شخصياتها, الانتماء لمن لا يشبهك, فقط لتحيا حياة كريمة, تحصل فيها على أبسط الحقوق التي حرم منها من هم في مثل وضعك أو في وضع قريب منك, وبطبيعة الحال, م
طاهر الزهراني
لا بد أن أعترف أني اقتنيت هذه الرواية لأنها أول عمل مترجم لمترجمها، فكان هدفي الترجمة أكثر من مضمون الرواية، لكن بمجرد أن بدأت الرواية انسقت لحدثها الذي ولج بي إلى أجواء ومشاعر إنسانية لم نعهدها في عمل تحدث عن مسألة العرق، وربما هذا الانسياق بشغف نحو أحداث الرواية هو دليل حسن الترجمة.
الرواية كلاسيكية في تقتياتها، وسردها، لكن الموضوع الذي يدور حول مفهوم العبور هو ما جعل للرواية أهميتها، وهذا المفهوم الذي يتحدث عن حالة إنسانية ستبقى ببقاء الانسان، هو ما سيجعل هذه الرواية تخلد، وهو ما جعل هذه الروا
Tiffany Reisz
Jul 21, 2015 Tiffany Reisz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Supposedly a book with the theme of racial "passing" is dated according to one critic. Seems more timely than ever after the Rachel Dolezeal scandal. Dated or not, the book was a beautifully written page-turner. Lots of passing going on. Are gay people passing for straight? An unhappy couple passing for happy? A bad wife passing for good? A fascinating look at the Harlem of the 1920s. Discussions of race more poignant than ever.
Jan 15, 2009 Samantha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I must admit that Nella Larson completes a fantastic feat in only 114 pages.

This book makes you think: about race, race relations, and one's own anxieties about "the other". It makes you question your own sense of self, what it means to be, to identify with something, anything really. What does it mean to be authentic? To be an individual? To be part of a group? To be a human being? To have a color of any type, and to accept it, or reject it. What does it all mean?

I was reading the Times this m
Oct 03, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately I have not read many Harlem Renaissaince greats. I've actually previously read "Native Son," "Go Tell it on the Mountain," "Invisible Man" only. The simplicity of the way this story is told, with a heavy and interesting overuse of commas and a well-rounded anecdote which deals with self-proclamation and self-deception, makes this my favorite one in the canon. It speaks of the race problem with the use of melodrama, a very tricky device which feels snuggly and at home here.

Irene is
This was a compelling psychological story delving into racial identity, and the sacrifices and perils facing a person denying her heritage to gain an advantage. As Irene, a main character in the story, said of that person, "The trouble with Clare was, not only that she wanted to have her cake and eat it too, but that she wanted to nibble at the cakes of other folk as well."

This book was filled with many grey areas, ethically and otherwise, that truly made me think about what elements define a p
تهاني عبدالواحد
إحدى كلاسيكيات الأدب الأمريكي، تتناول بكثافة واختزال فترة زمنية تبلغ من الأهمية ما يتطلب أن يُكتب عنها بإطناب وغزارة.
نيلا لارسن سيّجت قضية التمييز العنصري بالعبور العرقي، وهي الحيلة التي أتاحت لذوي البشرة البيضاء من أصول أفريقية وبدماءٍ مختلطة، الإنسلال من عرق إلى آخر للاستفادة من الامتيازات المدنية والاجتماعية المتاحة للبيض دون سواهم وذلك بعد إلغاء نظام الرقّ مع استمرار حالة النبذ الاجتماعي التي كان يعاني منها أولئك الذين حال لون بشرتهم الداكن دون الإنخراط في الحياة العامة.
ظلّ الفصل بين العرقين
This book said so much in so few words. It obviously deals with race issues, but oh so much more-- class issues, identity crisis, marriage infidelity, possibly lesbianism between the two main characters--their relationship, especially in the beginning is subtle, yet intense. I would consider this more of a novella. It was over way too soon & left me wanting to read more of Larsen's writing. Unfortunately, there's not much to read. I know of one other piece by her - Quicksand, and a few short ...more
Dec 27, 2015 Rosemary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
Light-skinned Irene Redfield meets an old childhood friend who is now "passing" as white. Clare is married to a racist white man who has no idea she has any African American ancestry. Despite the danger, she gravitates back into Irene's social circle, unable to stay away.

I found this much more accomplished than her first novel Quicksand. The characters were more compelling (both Irene and Clare) and I cared what happened here.
Jan 07, 2015 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In style and tone, this book reminds me of The Awakening. It is about a woman uncomfortable within the confines of the society that she chose for herself, a woman longing to break free but unable to do so completely, one who feels held back by her child and who is unhappy in her marriage, desperately seeking happiness elsewhere. Unlike The Awakening, though, Passing is told from the perspective of an acquaintance of Clare Kendry rather than from Clare herself. It creates even more of a distance ...more
Jun 29, 2013 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Passing by Nella Larsen is a must read for everyone. It takes place during the Harlem Renaissance. Clare and Irene are childhood friends who lose touch when Clare moves away after her father dies. She is sent to live with her white aunts, who decide Clare is to be white. Clare hides her part black identity, and “passes” as a white woman who eventually marries a white racist. Irene lives in Harlem, marries a black doctor, and commits herself to her race. These two women meet later in life and eac ...more
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500 Great Books B...: Passing - Nella Larsen 4 36 Feb 03, 2015 10:58AM  
Librivox version 2 15 Jan 25, 2014 01:49PM  
23 Short Classics: Passing 5 16 Jan 25, 2014 06:51AM  
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Nellallitea 'Nella' Larsen (first called Nellie Walker) was an American novelist of the Harlem Renaissance who wrote two novels and a few short stories. Though her literary output was scant, what she wrote earned her recognition by her contemporaries and by present-day critics.
More about Nella Larsen...

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“The trouble with Clare was, not only that she wanted to have her cake and eat it too, but that she wanted to nibble at the cakes of other folk as well.” 15 likes
“It hurt. It hurt like hell. But it didn’t matter, if no one knew.” 8 likes
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