Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

The Vanishing Half: A Literary Discussion

Tuesday, June 1, 2021 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Race Matters: Racial Passing and the American Literary Imagination

This two-part discussion series considers representations of racial passing in two important 21st century American novels: Philip Roth’s The Human Stain (2000) and Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half (2020).  Both novels address the themes of racial identity and passing by revealing how racial identity matters. They balance the language of freedom used to describe the experience of passing with the language of violence: “vanishing,” “murder,” “killing,” and, in the case of Coleman Silk in The Human Stain, “slipping the punch.” These two novels published nearly 100 years after James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912) and Nella Larsen’s Passing (1929) reveal how the American literary imagination continues to explore the effects of racial passing.  Please join us for one or both of the programs: 

Tuesday, June 1 The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett  

Tuesday, June 29 The Human Stain by Philip Roth  

Both discussions will be led by Dr. Aimee Pozorski, CCSU English Department.

About this book:

From The New York Times-bestselling author of The Mothers, a stunning novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.

Please register for each discussion separately; Zoom links will be sent out before the event.


Tuesday, June 1, 2021
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Category:


AFPL Adult Programs
860-673-9712 ext 4
View Organizer Website


281 Country Club Rd
Avon, CT 06001
+ Google Map