Quicksand (Paperback)

Staff Pick Badge
Quicksand By Nella Larsen, Thadious M. Davis (Introduction by), Thadious M. Davis (Notes by) Cover Image
By Nella Larsen, Thadious M. Davis (Introduction by), Thadious M. Davis (Notes by)
On Our Shelves Now
8 on hand, as of Mar 21 5:03am
6 on hand, as of Mar 21 1:18am
5 on hand, as of Mar 21 4:33am
Downtown Brooklyn
5 on hand, as of Mar 21 5:03am

Staff Reviews

I have a real soft spot for characters who keep making terrible decisions, and Quicksand is a classic of the subgenre! More folks are familiar with Nella Larsen's follow-up Passing, but this book is more personal, more subversive (a mixed-race woman becoming the toast of society in 1920s Denmark?!), and ultimately more devastating, with a final line that will leave you reeling.

— Miguel


Born to a white mother and an absent black father, and despised for her dark skin, Helga Crane has long had to fend for herself. As a young woman, Helga teaches at an all-black school in the South, but even here she feels different. Moving to Harlem and eventually to Denmark, she attempts to carve out a comfortable life and place for herself, but ends up back where she started, choosing emotional freedom that quickly translates into a narrow existence.

Quicksand, Nella Larsen's powerful first novel, has intriguing autobiographical parallels and at the same time invokes the international dimension of African American culture of the 1920s. It also evocatively portrays the racial and gender restrictions that can mark a life.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

About the Author

Nella Larsen (1891-1964) was the author of two novels and several short stories. She received a Guggenheim fellowship to write a third novel in 1930 but, unable to find a publisher for it, she disappeared from the literary scene and worked as a nurse.

Thadious M. Davis is the G. C. Vanderbilt Professor of English at Vanderbilt University, the author of an acclaimed biography of Nella Larsen, and the editor of Larsen’s Quicksand for Penguin Classics.

Praise For…

"Fine, thoughtful and courageous. It is, on the whole, the best piece of fiction that Negro America has produced since the heyday of [Charles] Chesnutt." W. E. B. Du Bois
Product Details
ISBN: 9780141181271
ISBN-10: 0141181273
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Publication Date: January 29th, 2002
Pages: 192
Language: English
Series: Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics