Cover for FRANK: Holiday. Click for larger image


Waldo Frankís 1923 novel "Holiday" is the compelling account of a Southern lynching presented through a white authorís modernist, experimental style. Written by a white, middle class Jewish northerner educated at Yale posing as a black man while traveling with Jean Toomer.

The novel Holiday is a compelling account of a southern lynching in which the simmering sexual and religious fervor and the violent act to which they inexorably lead are depicted in a modernist, experimental style.

Although Holiday was promoted alongside Harlem Renaissance works, Waldo Frank was not a natural fit for the New Negro movement. Born into an upper-middle-class Jewish family in New Jersey and educated at Yale, Frank traveled around the South in 1922 with his friend, the Harlem Renaissance writer Jean Toomer, collecting observations for what was to become Holiday.

The events of the novel take place on a single day in the southern town of Nazareth, a day so punishingly hot that Virginia Hade gives her father's black workers a holiday from work at the request of the black overseer, John Cloud. Meanwhile, a Revival tent is set up in the town, and a wave of religious passion spreads among the townsfolk, culminating in the novel's final, brutal act.

"Holiday offers a lively introduction to one of America's most important forgotten authors. As Kathleen Pfeiffer's introduction suggests, Frank's novel also sheds needed light on one of the greatest mysteries of the Harlem Renaissance: the genesis of Jean Toomer's classic Cane." -Ė William J. Maxwell, author of New Negro, Old Left and editor of Claude McKay's Complete Poems

Waldo Frank (1889-1967) was a journalist and the author of The Unwelcome Man, Our America, Dawn in Russia, and In the American Jungle, among other works. Kathleen Pfeiffer is an associate professor of English at Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan. She is the author of Race Passing and American Individualism.

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