Newly released short story by Langston Hughes

PicturePhoto by Gordon Parks for US Office of War Information

Originally written in 1961, “Seven People Dancing” by Langston Hughes was just published this week in the New Yorker. Arnold Rampersad, who co-wrote Days of Grace with Arthur Ashe, came upon the short story decades ago while researching a biography of Hughes and going through his papers which are at Yale University. However David Roessel, who Rampersad collaborated with on Selected Letter of Langston Hughes in 2014, really pushed for the story about a party in an apartment in Harlem, to be published. There is no evidence that Hughes attempted to do so himself during his lifetime, perhaps due to the subject matter of the story, which touches upon subjects that were controversial at the time such as sexuality and interracial relationships.  Around the same time as he wrote this, Hughes published another story that dealt with homosexuality and was apparently planning a book with stories about sex that he never finished. Hughes passed away in 1967, but several pieces by him have been released posthumously, beginning with The Panther and the Lash, a collection of political essays, the same year he died.
Read “Seven People Dancing” on the New Yorker
Rampersad reflects on this story and Hughes’ work in the New Yorker