“Claude McKay: (1889-1948) Jamaican-born poet and novelist. McKay, a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, became the first black best-selling author with his Home to Harlem (1928), the story of a black soldier returning home after World War I. Among his other novels are Banjo (1929), dealing with an international company of drifters on the waterfront in Marseilles, and Banana Bottom (1933), one of the great early Caribbean novels celebrating Caribbean popular culture from the point of view of a female protagonist. His verse was published in the collections Songs of Jamaica (1912), Constab Ballads (1912), Spring in New Hampshire and Other Poems (1920), and Harlem Shadows (1922). His autobiography, A Long Way from Home (1937), presents the odyssey of the black intellectual journeying from the Caribbean to America, Europe, and North Africa, and back to the U.S.”
Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.