Dancing in the Dark by Caryl Phillips
(Vintage International)

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In this searing novel, Caryl Phillips reimagines the life of the first black entertainer in the U.S. to reach the highest levels of fame and fortune.After years of struggling for success on the stage, Bert Williams (1874—1922), the child of recent immigrants from the Bahamas, made the radical decision to don blackface makeup and play the “coon.” Behind this mask he became a Broadway headliner–as influential a comedian as Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, and W. C. Fields, who called him “the funniest man I ever saw, and the saddest man I ever knew.” It is this dichotomy at Williams’ core that Phillips explores in this richly nuanced, brilliantly written novel, unblinking in its attention to the sinister compromises that make up an identity.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Caryl Phillips

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Caryl Phillips lives in New York City.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Published December 18, 2007 by Vintage. 226 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, Action & Adventure. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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A provocative, illuminating novel that imagines the inner life and explores the cultural legacy of Bert Williams, the first popular black stage performer of America's early 20th century.

Jun 24 2010 | Read Full Review of Dancing in the Dark (Vintage ...

The New York Times

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Caryl Phillips's novel is based on the life of Bert Williams, one of vaudeville's biggest stars.

Oct 02 2005 | Read Full Review of Dancing in the Dark (Vintage ...

Entertainment Weekly

Was the wife with whom he shared a sexless marriage a beard to cover up deeply repressed homosexual .

Sep 14 2005 | Read Full Review of Dancing in the Dark (Vintage ...

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