This July our Book of the Month is TheWedding by Dorothy West. Long out of print, this incredible novel by the last surviving writer of the Harlem Renaissance, deserves to be discovered by a new generation of readers. With a new introduction by Diana Evans, author of Ordinary People.
On a summer weekend in 1953, the Coles family gathers in preparation for the wedding of its loveliest daughter, Shelby. The Oval is a proud, insular community made up of the best and brightest of the East Coast’s black bourgeoisie and Shelby could have chosen from ‘a whole area of eligible men of the right colours and the right professions’. Instead she has fallen in love with a white New York jazz musician and the ‘blue-vein society’ she belongs to struggles with the changing face of its community.
Through a delicate interweaving of past and present, North and South, black and white, The Wedding unfolds outward from a single isolated time and place until it embraces five generations of an American family. It is an audacious accomplishment, a monumental history of the rise of a black middle class. Wise, heartfelt and shattering, this landmark novel is Dorothy West’s crowning achievement.
DorothyWest’s career spans eight decades. A leading light of the Harlem Renaissance movement of the 1930s, she founded literary magazines Challenge and New Challenge. Her short stories appear in numerous anthologies of 20th century African-American fiction. She died in 1998