An enlightening trip through Harlem--from its colorful street life and its incomparable jazz venues to its back rooms, where drinking, drugging, gambling, and women helped some take a load off. Jake Brown is a lover of life and takes in all that Harlem has to offer like a long, cool drink. Though he's subjected to the same oppression as those around him, he chooses to rise above it and delight in the blessings he does have. Ray, on the other hand has been defeated one too many times, and despite, or perhaps because of, having a formal education, he is bent on revolt. First published in 1928, this was Claude McKay's first novel.
First novel by Claude Mckay, published in 1928. In it and its sequel, Banjo, McKay attempted to capture the vitality of the black vagabonds of urban America and Europe. Jake Brown, the protagonist of Home to Harlem, deserts the U.S. Army during World War I and lives in London until a race riot inspires him to return to Harlem. On his first night home he meets the prostitute Felice, for whom he spends much of the rest of the novel searching. Amid his adventures in Harlem, a gallery of rough, lusty, heavy-drinking characters appear to vivid effect. While working as a dining-car waiter Jake encounters another point of view in Ray, a pessimistic, college-educated Haitian immigrant who advocates behavior based on racial pride. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
Mr. McKay's book assails the optical, the olfactory, the kinesthetic antennae whereby the human being takes in the world about him. In less stilted phrases, you can see, smell and feel what he writes. -- The New York Times Book Review, John R. Chamberlain