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The Vanishing Half

Family and identity

From The New York Times-bestselling author of The Mothers, a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white. Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, Brit Bennett produces a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past, as it shapes decisions, desires and expectations, and explores the multiple reasons why people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

Part of our ‘Beyond the Book’ Series. View




Brit Bennett On Transgressing Racial Identity In ‘The Vanishing Half’

(30 mins)

Greta talks with Brit Bennett, the author of The Vanishing Half which just climbed to the top of The New York Times bestselling fiction list amid nationwide conversations around racial inequality. Nerdette Book Club.


Book Review By Maureen Corrigan

(6 mins)

Identical twins become divided by race In ‘The Vanishing Half’, a review for NPR Fresh Air.




The chosen exile of racial “passing”

(12 mins )

Allyson Hobbs discusses the phenomenon of racial passing in the United States from the late 18th century to the present.


Eight black women discuss the politics of skin tone

(5 mins)

As part of our Shades of Black series, the Guardian invited eight women to talk about their experience of colourism in their relationships, careers and everyday life.

Colourism is the discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone. This means that darker skinned black people have to fight prejudice even within their own community, where lighter skin is seen as more desirable. As such, darker skinned black people can experience both racism and colourism.


Why is colourism a problem in ethnic minorities

(26 mins )

Roundtable discussion. Judged by the colour of your skin – but not just black or white. It’s the shades in between – and the prejudice that comes from perhaps not being what some consider the correct colour. It’s referred to as colourism. Maybe you’re too black, or not black enough – you’re a shade of brown that for some reason makes you popular or more employable. And this form of racism comes from within your own ethnicity.


‘You don’t have to look black to be black’: The complex racial identity of a tiny Ohio town

(7 mins)

In the remote Ohio town of East Jackson, which sits in the Appalachian foothills, residents have for decades identified as black – despite the fact they appear white. Tom Silverstone and Francisco Navas visit a place where residents’ racial lines have been blurred to invisibility



‘The Vanishing Half’ Counts The Terrible Costs Of Bigotry And Secrecy


It’s a rare gift to be able to dig beyond the dirt and gossip of lives viewed superficially to get to the inner human story, to delve beyond the sensational into difficult issues, and to view flawed characters with understanding rather than judgment or condemnation. By Helen McAlpin

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The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett review, two faces of the black experience


A light-skinned twin sister constructs a new identity as a white woman in a clever novel that confounds expectations, Colin Grant for the Guardian.

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Book Club Questions for The Vanishing Half


Great questions for your Book Club to use to further discussions and debate about the book. From

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Shades of Black

A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life

Imitation of Life Movie

Brit Bennett website

Passing. A novel by Nella Larson


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