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.
Back to the top >