Published for the first time, the pioneering novel of physical disability, transatlantic travel, black modernism,
and one of the earliest overtly queer fictions in the African American tradition.
Romance in Marseille traces the adventures of a rowdy troupe of dockworkers, prostitutes, and political organizers—
collectively straight and queer, disabled and able-bodied, African, European, Caribbean, and American. Set largely
in the culture-blending Vieux Port of Marseille at the height of the Jazz Age, the novel takes flight along with Lafala,
an acutely disabled but abruptly wealthy West African sailor. While stowing away on a transatlantic ship, Lafala is
discovered and locked in a frigid closet. Badly frostbitten by the time the boat docks, the once-nimble dancer loses
both of his lower legs. Thanks to a successful lawsuit against the shipping line, Lafala doubles back to Marseille and
resumes his trans-African affair with Aslima, a Moroccan courtesan. With its scenes of black bodies fighting for
pleasure and liberty, McKay’s novel explores the heritage of slavery amid an unforgiving modern economy.