No Easy Place to Be

Steven Corbin, Author Simon & Schuster $19.45 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-65884-7
Corbin's first novel is set in Harlem in the 1920s, during the period of black literary and artistic creation known as the Harlem Renaissance. He captures the fervor of post-World War I black optimism, contrasted by rampant racial bigotry, while chronicling the lives of three sisters: Velma, Barnard graduate and aspiring writer; Miriam, indefatigable activist for back-to-Africa nationalist Marcus Garvey; and Louise, whose fair skin leads her to the Cotton Club and show business. Corbin does well in delineating the black literary, entertainment and social worlds of the period, all the while detailing the fascination of white critics and wealthy patrons with the sudden emergence of the Negro artist. Writers from the era, such as Langston Hughes and Wallace Thurman, turn up briefly as characters. Corbin is not adept, however, at conveying the interaction between his characters. And while his dialogue is sometimes pointed and vivid, too often the writing is stilted and woefully cliched. An interesting but flawed treatment of a period of great social flux. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1989
Release date: 02/01/1989
Genre: Fiction
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