New Book: Raphaël Confiant’s “Madame St-Clair, reine de Harlem”

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Raphaël Confiant’s Madame St-Clair, reine de Harlem, published by Mercure de France, is out this month.

In Madame St-Clair, reine de Harlem, Raphaël Confiant tells the story of an exceptional woman gangster, Stephanie St. Clair who, in the New York of the 1920s and 40s, became the queen of the underground lottery. Dubbed “Madame Queen” or “Queenie” in the community, she successfully confronted both the black underworld and the white mob.

Montray Kreyol writes: With panache, Madame St-Clair crossed all eras: the Prohibition, black ghetto riots, the First World War, the Great Depression of 1929, World War II, and the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement.

She enriched herself to the point of living on Sugar Hill, the posh part of Harlem where the great black intellectuals of the Black Renaissance and inventors (such as Duke Ellington) of a new music—jazz—lived. She became an icon in Harlem but also in many black communities throughout the northern United States.

This novel brings to life a woman who was a forerunner of the African American feminist movement, without ever having gained the international notoriety of a Josephine Baker, her contemporary.

For more information (in French), see http://www.montraykreyol.org/article/madame-st-clair-reine-de-harlem

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