Daniel Sharfstein

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Daniel Sharfstein’s The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White (Penguin Press, 2011) is the latest and perhaps best book in the growing genre of neo-passing narratives. The Invisible Line easily rests between Philip Roth’s The Human Stain and Blis Broyard’s One Drop, though it is different and in ways richer than both. Part American history, part legal analysis (Sharfstein is a legal scholar), part ethnographic study, it is a wholly gripping and exquisitely written narrative that tracks the racial passing of three black families over several centuries, leading us right up to their living “white” descendents today. You will certainly learn a lot about the history of race in the United States from The Invisible Line and, if you’re like me, you won’t be able to put it down.

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AD Powell December 12, 2013 at 11:00 pm

The families in Sharfstein’s book start out as mixed race or mulatto status, NOT BLACK. They then become or progress to white. It’s wrong to say that they were “passing” for what they truly were.

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