Helga's mother is white, and her father is black — and absent. Ostracized throughout her lonely childhood for her dark skin, Helga spends her adult life seeking acceptance. Everywhere she goes — the American South, Harlem, even Denmark--she feels oppressed. Socially, economically, and psychologically, Helga struggles against the "quicksand" of classism, racism, and sexism.
One of the most acclaimed and influential writers of the Harlem Renaissance, Nella Larsen published her powerful first novel in 1928. Quicksand features intriguing autobiographical parallels with Larsen's own life, in addition to reflecting many aspects of African-American culture of the 1920s. Alice Walker praised it and Passing (Larsen's second novel, also available in a Dover edition) as "novels I will never forget. They open up a whole world of experience and struggle that seemed to me, when I first read them years ago, absolutely absorbing, fascinating, and indispensable."