By Sarah Kuta​

Nan Goodman

Duke University Press

Collaboration + support
Ohio University; Washington University in St. Louis

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Romance in Marseille illustrationThe CU Boulder-affiliated academic journal English Language Notes dedicated an entire issue to the recently published Harlem Renaissance-era novel Romance in Marseille by Claude McKay in April 2021.

Nan Goodman, a CU Boulder professor of English and Jewish studies, serves as editor-in-chief of the interdisciplinary journal, which was founded in 1963 under the sponsorship of CU Boulder.

Set at the height of the Jazz Age, the aheadof-its-time novel tells the story of Lafala, a Black sailor who lost his lower legs after stowing away on a transatlantic freighter. McKay, a Jamaican-American writer, set the book’s drafts aside in 1933 because publishers likely considered the themes and characters too controversial. Penguin Random House published the novel in 2020 after the manuscripts resurfaced.

Today, as the world grapples with questions about race, privilege, sexuality, gender, health and human rights, the book is more relevant than ever, Goodman said.