Quicksand

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"Quicksand" (1928) is the first novel to give a voice to the sexual desires of a black woman. Helga Crane, the book's protagonist, is trapped in the conflict between an active and a passive sexual behaviour, between sexual fufilment and middle-class respectability. Conflicts of race and sex even a religious conversion cannot resolve. "Passing", written a year later, is overtly about black people who pass for white, but in a veiled way it also is the desire of one woman for another - a new and daring theme for the writing of the time. The eroticism and sexuality that Nella Larsen was only able to whisper has in recent times been spoken loud and clear by Gayl Jones, Alice Walker, Ntozake Shange and many other black women writers who recognize Nella Larsen as a pioneer and inspiration.

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