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Passing
Fannie
Nellie Bly

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Brooke Kroeger

Researching the life of Fannie Hurst for my last book, the black-for-white subplot of her novel Imitation of Life got me thinking about passing. Hurst's 1932 depiction makes the notion seem so passé, I found myself wondering if people passed anymore and if so, what would compel them to make such a drastic life choice now, especially with our more tolerant age as a backdrop. I found subjects by the dozens. The reasons to pass today, it turns out, are many, but the one that seemed most urgent to explore in depth was the passing that saves a worthy person from being excluded unjustly in the pursuit of very ordinary aims and ambitions. Each of the stories in this book, I think, could stand alone; but I confess to having had a larger purpose in drawing this disparate group together. Passers are, in the words of one scholar, “ideal questioners of the status quo. Their stories have the power to expose much larger societal wrongs, either in the specific settings in which the episodes take place or beyond.

Brooke Kroeger is also an associate professor of journalism at New York University. A former foreign correspondent and editor, she has worked in every print medium. At NEWSDAY, she served as UN Correspondent and as a deputy metropolitan editor for NEW YORK NEWSDAY. This followed an eight-year stint overseas in the Scripps Howard days of United Press International with postings in Brussels, London and Tel Aviv. She was Tel Aviv bureau chief for three years before returning to London to serve as the agency's chief editor for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. She started with the wire service in its Chicago bureau, and over the course of four years, wrote about everything from local and state politics to sports.

Over the years, her freelanced work has appeared in numerous women's magazines as well as in THE NEW YORK TIMES, NEWSDAY, and the LOS ANGELES TIMES.

She is also the author of two biographies: FANNIE: The Talent for Success of Writer Fannie Hurst (1999) and NELLIE BLY: Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist (1994). PASSING (2003) is her third book.

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