Romance in Marseille

Narrated by: Dion Graham
Length: 5 hrs and 40 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

The pioneering novel of physical disability, transatlantic travel, and black international politics. A vital document of black modernism and one of the earliest overtly queer fictions in the African American tradition. Published for the first time

Buried in the archive for almost 90 years, Claude McKay's Romance in Marseille traces the adventures of a rowdy troupe of dockworkers, prostitutes, and political organizers - collectively straight and queer, disabled and able-bodied, African, European, Caribbean, and American.

Set largely in the culture-blending Vieux Port of Marseille at the height of the Jazz Age, the novel takes flight along with Lafala, an acutely disabled but abruptly wealthy West African sailor. While stowing away on a transatlantic freighter, Lafala is discovered and locked in a frigid closet. Badly frostbitten by the time the boat docks, the once-nimble dancer loses both of his lower legs, emerging from life-saving surgery as what he terms "an amputated man." Thanks to an improbably successful lawsuit against the shipping line, however, Lafala scores big in the litigious United States. Feeling flush after his legal payout, Lafala doubles back to Marseille and resumes his trans-African affair with Aslima, a Moroccan courtesan.

With its scenes of black bodies fighting for pleasure and liberty even when stolen, shipped, and sold for parts, McKay's novel explores the heritage of slavery amid an unforgiving modern economy. This first-ever edition of Romance in Marseille includes an introduction by McKay scholars Gary Edward Holcomb and William J. Maxwell that places the novel within both the "stowaway era" of black cultural politics and McKay's challenging career as a star and skeptic of the Harlem Renaissance.

©2020 The Literary Estate for the Works of Claude McKay (P)2020 Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    5
  • 4 Stars
    3
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    8
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    6
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Walk on the Wild Side of Life

McKay is a very colorful and insightful writer. His language is lush and to my mind more reflective of the colors of his native Jamacia than of Marseille or even Northern Africa which he tends to romanticize. His character La Falla is interesting but in this novel what "goes around does not come around". La Falla is a selfish undereducated bushman who is totally self-absorbed and because of the loss of his legs empowered by a substantial settlement from the steamship company that he stows away on. He has no gratitude to those who teach him about how society works. He stiffs the fellow patient who gets him a Jew ambulance chaser of a lawyer. He reneges on the agreement with the lawyer and screws him out of his share of the settlement. When he is sent back to Marseille on his new cork legs he lords it over his fellows of color and exploits the whores who make their living on the waterfront. While waiting for his affairs to settle he become involved with the street girl who cheated him when he first arrived in the port but upon his return she falls for him in a big way. He thinks he loves her but thinks better of it after promising that they will go to Africa together. He sneaks off, sails alone and leaves her a letter with some cash in it. He betrays her with no goodbyes.
The ending is somwwhat unsatisfying and it seems as if McKay was just pleasing his publisher and a reading public in his presentation of life among the colored disenfranchised as well as the working-class whites and salilors going from port to port. All in all it is an enjoyable read but it is the women who are the most engaging characters.