Nigger Heaven by Carl Van Vechten

Nigger Heaven

A controversial but appealing, amusing, and vivacious celebration of Harlem and the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920’sNo other contemporary novel received the volume and intensity of criticism and curiosity that greeted Nigger Heaven upon its publication in 1926. Carl Van Vechten's novel generated a storm of controversy because of its scandalous title and fed an insatiable hunger on the part of the reading public for material relating to the blac...


Details Nigger Heaven

TitleNigger Heaven
ISBN9780252068607
Author
Release DateDec 30th, 1999
PublisherUniversity of Illinois Press
LanguageEnglish
GenreFiction, Cultural, African American, American, African American Literature, Literature
Rating

Reviews Nigger Heaven

  • Sketchbook
    2011-01-06
    A vivid novel set during the Harlem Renaissance thataffronted some because of its title, which refers to thetop theatre balcony reserved for blacks. (Decades laterno one minded when Dick Gregory's autobio was called"Nigger!") CVV pens the doomed romance of an elevatoroperator... Civil rights leader James Weldon Johnson saidit was "the most powerful novel of Negro life yet written."CVV, perhaps the first to open his salon to blacks, wasclose frien...
  • Leslie
    2016-04-07
    Read this for my Harlem Renaissance class. Would only recommend it to someone interested in the history of the time period, because it was an important text - credited with exposing the Renaissance to a broader audience. As a literary work, it's strange, clunky in parts, and somewhat boring.
  • Evan
    2009-03-16
    "A white prostitute can go places where a colored preacher would be refused admittance."Quite apart from my own opinion as to the relative merits of white hookers versus black men of the cloth (I would probably respect most whores over preachers of any color), we get the real point that Carl Van Vechten is driving at in the above statement. His 1926 pro-racial-tolerance novel, Nigger Heaven abounds in such provocative observations, and despite co...
  • Eb Daniels
    2017-01-20
    Controversial from its publication, Nigger Heaven has largely been relegated to the pile of offensive literary novelties: a white man writing entirely from the perspective of blacks was untoward in 1926 and it continues to leave a bad taste in the mouths of many modern critics. That being said, Nigger Heaven does present an unusual perspective on a unique time - the Harlem Renaissance - with some value as an approach, not to black life during the...
  • Aileen
    2008-02-10
    One of the characters in this book says, "It isn't the story that counts; it's the treatment." She is telling her boyfriend, a writer, that the story he intends to write is going to be hard to write as real, instead of as propaganda - this book's term for sensational stereotypical tales of the New Negro. Ultimately, I don't think that Van Vechten pulls off the treatment here, and the story he tells reads a bit too much like propanda. There are so...
  • Mike
    2016-06-11
    For such a provocative title and all the controversy surrounding its initial publication, Carl Van Vechten's Nigger Heaven is a rather mainstream novel. I doubt it would have been so controversial had it been given a different title or published by a black writer. Written from the perspective of two lovers, Mary and Byron, the novel introduces a host of characters who represent the full social, economic, and cultural sweep of Harlem in the 1920s....
  • William Clemens
    2012-03-21
    I kind of don't know what to say about this book. A review by a white guy of a book about Black culture in Harlem during the early 20th century that was written by a gay white man. Despite my difficulty in talking about N-word Heaven as I was reading it, I really liked and enjoyed this book. I don't have any idea whether it was an accurate portrayal of Harlem or the experience of being Black in the time period, but it seemed a fair and I liked th...
  • Creolecat
    2017-08-21
    3.5A couple of observations: > Carl Van Vechten was so enamored of black culture, he lived vicariously through it.> VV wrote this book obviously for a white audience. In addition, there's a glossary in the back. Now who do you think that's for? The book is told through two characters: Book one is Mary, the sensitive librarian, setting the stage of Harlem high life superficially viewed through her friends and acquaintances. Many characters were th...
  • Kyle
    2007-05-24
    This 1926 novel of the Harlem Renaissance, written by a white, gay man, drew fire from the black community for its scandalous title. It's good, but a bit too polemical for my taste. His point is that there are rich blacks, intellectual blacks, jazz-players, poor blacks and gigolos all living side by side in Harlem. They are various and interesting people and not of one mind on any subject and we should really get to know them. His main characters...
  • Jim
    2014-06-11
    I have had an odd reaction to the book: not great, but very interesting. Writing by a gay white man, it may suffer from not being an insider, but apparently, the author was part of the community in Harlem. And the picture of that community is fascinating. The characters, the debauchery, the high life, the despair are interesting and well demonstrated. Many of the colloquialisms are great to read and know.The characterizations are weak and little ...
  • Barbara Watson
    2019-03-21
    I was initially very put-off by the title of this book but decided to give it a try and found it to be quite an enjoyable read. But, beware--it does contain a lot of very offensive words by the standards of today!!
  • Jonathan Monnet
    2018-07-26
    Its fascinating and sad simultaneously that the issues discussed in the novel,; racism, color-ism, violence ares till rampant in American especially African American society. If one is able to get pass the title it reads as great historical fiction.
  • eliza
    2008-10-17
    A fast story about intraracial prejudice, pride, and artistry; especially fascinating is the integration of lyrical excerpts (typical of New Negro writing, but very emphasized here). Also there are a few David Lynchian scenes in the cabarets that leave you wondering...
  • Karol K
    2014-04-09
    A page turner for me. Wish I had read it in my youth. I reccommend if you are interested in this period and the social customs of Harlem. Great description of the difficulties surviving as a black and how very many were able to avoid it by "passing over".
  • Hans Ostrom
    2017-06-03
    A novel about Harlem with Black characters written by a White patron of the arts/critic/socialite, Carl Van Vechten. The title was deliberately incendiary, but no one could talk him out of it. Its publication divided the Harlem literati--Du Bois, among others, hated it. James Weldon Johnson thought it was okay. Langston Hughes quickly wrote blues lyrics for it when Van Vechten couldn't get permission to use existing lyrics. (Hughes and Van Vechte...