Doctoral student Jean-Christophe Cloutier and his advisor, Professor Brent Edwards, have recently announced the discovery of a hitherto unknown manuscript by the Harlem Renaissance writer Claude McKay (1889-1948). The 1941 manuscript— a novel titled “Amiable With Big Teeth: A Novel of the Love Affair Between the Communists and the Poor Black Sheep of Harlem”— has been proven authentic by Edwards and Cloutier (a judgment confirmed by three other McKay experts), and they are currently preparing a scholarly edition of the book. Edwards has recently asserted that the novel will eventually come to be seen as
“the key political novel of black intellectual life in New York in the late 1930s.”
Cloutier came across the manuscript in 2009 while working in Columbia’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library on the archives of the publisher Samuel Roth, a Columbia alumnus, and along with Edwards has been working since then on its authentication. Cloutier’s dissertation project (“Archival Vagabonds: 20th Century American Fiction and the Archive in Novelistic Practice”) will include the first scholarly analysis of the previously unknown text.