Race and Revolution in Claude McKay’s Final Novel


“This debate about the value of communist internationalism over black nationalism is at the core of Amiable With Big Teeth. Written at a time when most scholars thought that black cultural production had come to a grinding halt as a result of the Great Depression (and the consequent dip in arts patronage), Amiable With Big Teeth provides unparalleled insight into this relatively understudied moment in black American history … As a creative work and a historical document, Amiable With Big Teeth is nothing short of a master key into a world where the intersection of race and global revolutionary politics plays out in the lives of characters who are as dynamic and fully realized as the novel itself. The story offers a front-row seat to the polemics that drove (and stymied) black radical organizing in the 1930s … for today’s audience, McKay’s last novel should make for fascinating and timely reading as Americans enter an era in which solidarity-building across racial identities and national borders feels more necessary, and perhaps more difficult to achieve, than ever.”

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Jennifer Wilson, The Atlantic, March 9, 2017

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