The Living is Easy

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DOROTHY WEST was the youngest member of writers of the Harlem Renaissance. In 1934 West founded a creative writing/political activism journal, The Challenge.

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The Living Is Easy

Dorothy West

Afterword by Adelaide Cromwell

This stunning first novel by the author of The Wedding is one of only a handful of novels published by black women during the 1940s. It tells the story of Cleo Judson—daughter of southern sharecroppers and wife of "Black Banana King" Bart Judson. Cleo seeks to recreate her original family by urging her sisters and their children to live with her, while rearing her daughter to be a member of Boston's black elite.

"[A] powerful work."


"Concerned with the magical qualities of black girlhood . . .The Living Is Easy focuses on the special role of the mother in childhood fantasies. . . . Cleo Jericho Judson is a grown woman when we first meet her . . . but it is the incomplete relationship with her long-dead mother that still drives her."

Village Voice

"The important thing about the book is its abundance and special woman's energy and beat. The beat is a deep one, and it often makes a man's seem puny."

—Seymour Krim, New York Times

"[Dorothy West] is a brisk storyteller with an eye for ironical detail . . . [and] a deft stylist and writer of social satire."


"An American masterpiece."

—Cynthia Davis, professor of English, University of Maryland