Passing is a novel[a] by American author Nella Larsen, first published in 1929. Set primarily in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City in the 1920s, the story centers on the reunion of two childhood friends, Clare Kendry and Irene Redfield, and their increasing fascination with each other's lives. The title and central theme of the novel refer to the practice of racial "passing"; Clare Kendry's passing as white with her white husband, John (Jack) Bellew, is its most significant depiction in the novel, and a catalyst for the tragic events.
Larsen's exploration of race was informed by her own mixed racial heritage and the increasingly common practice of racial passing in the 1920s. Praised upon publication, the novel has since been celebrated in modern scholarship for its complex depiction of race, gender and sexuality. As one of only two novels by Larsen, Passing has been significant to her ranked at the forefront of several literary canons and has been the subject of considerable scholarly criticism.