Carla Kaplan

Home » News » Miss Anne in Harlem in the The New York Times Book Review

"Miss Anne in Harlem" in New York Times Book Review

The New York Times Book Review has published a review of Miss Anne in Harlem for its September 21st Sunday Edition. The review, by Martha Sandweiss, reads, in part:

"In this remarkable work of historical recovery, Carla Kaplan...does well by a group of women who got so much wrong. She resurrects Miss Anne as a cultural figure and explores the messy contradictions of her life, moving her from the periphery of a story about white patronage and boundary-testing interracial liaisons to the center....But this is really a collection of individual stories, a group biography that lets the idiosyncrasies of the individual women shine through....It would be easy to dismiss such women as high-handed interlopers. But Kaplan urges us to take them seriously and to use their sometimes overwrought, even outrageous, expressions of cross-racial solidarity as a way to understand a broader set of questions about racial identity....The book is full of fresh discoveries...But the focus of the book remains squarely on the larger issues of racial identity raised by Miss Anne's deep personal identification with African-American life....Miss Anne makes for a messy heroine. But in Kaplan's deeply researched book, she becomes a useful cultural type, for all her inconsistencies and inability to effect broad social change. As Americans debate whether this might truly be a "post-racial" age, Miss Anne's ambitions and failures remind us what happened when an earlier generation of earnest and committed (if sometimes misguided) women questioned the meaning of the color line, and pushed for the right to define their own racial identities. They discovered that even if race is a fiction, the power of race is real."