Part sci-fi and part cultural critique, the novel presents a new invention that can turn black skin white, allowing African Americans to blend into the majority and seemingly avoid discrimination and persecution. However, as more people purchase the power to change their skin color, suddenly whiteness seems boring and unattractive. Being like everyone else isn't all it's cracked up to be. And the novel's white characters, in a brilliant twist of narrative irony, once they learn of blacks lightening their skin, begin to devise methods for darkening theirs. When everyone is obsessed with race, segregation continues to prevail, no matter what side of the color line one started from. With hilarious scenes that skewer both white supremacists and black activists, it is one of the smartest and funniest analyses of the human condition you will read. And it reaffirms the value of individuals, of people embracing whatever color they are, and of working harder toward getting along with others rather than focusing on what divides us.
This is a great book for anyone high school-aged and up that should be on every African American Literature syllabus in today's universities. And it's by an author who deserves more recognition as one of the leading black voices of the early twentieth century.