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West, Dorothy

(US, 1907–98)

West is a born-and-bred Boston lady. She began to write at a young age and went on to become one of a group of influential black writers and artists of the 1930s known as the Harlem Renaissance. Her most famous novel, The Living is Easy (1948), set at the turn of the century, deals with Cleo Jericho and her aspirations to become one of the Boston black social élite. The novel tackles the precarious situation of the black middle class and its relation to the white community, through issues such as the importance of the exact shade of a black person's skin. This is a major anxiety for Cleo as her daughter, Judy, ‘suffers’ from a very dark complexion. The Wedding (1995), written after a forty-five-year gap, is set in Martha's Vineyard, a middle-class resort in East Coast America. It is the 1950s and again West addresses the difficulties facing the black bourgeoisie. This time the story revolves around a society wedding which is being jeopardized by a lower-class womanizing black jazz musician who decides he wants the black society bride for himself.

Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Margaret Forster  CJ

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Tr-Z)