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Dancing In The Dark by Caryl Phillips
Dancing In The Dark is a fictionalized account of the life of black comedian Bert Williams, who, at one point in the early 1900s, was the highest paid entertainer in the United States. As a light-skinned Caribbean immigrant, Williams donned blackface to play Negro stereotypes on stage, and to huge success. He was an intelligent and dignified man who broke down barriers for black entertainers, but the parts he played helped solidify the stereotypes he hoped to dispel. This contradiction created stress in his personal life, leading to W. C. Fields calling him, "the funniest man I ever saw, and the saddest man I ever knew." Caryl Phillips' novel has received positive reviews with the the London Times calling it "a fine and beautifully nuanced performance."