Sag Harbor (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
In his fourth novel, Sag Harbor, Colson Whitehead focuses his considerable wit and imagination on the traditional coming-of-age story, with far from traditional results. Although the events in the novel are based on his own summers at Sag Harbor, the author has said that his invented characters lead much more interesting lives than he did. Benji Cooper, fifteen years old, is “out” for the summer, having come from New York City to a beach house in Azurest, a colony on Long Island Bay populated by wealthy African American professional families. Benji and his brother Reggie attend a predominantly white prep school in Manhattan. White people, unaccustomed to seeing African American children dressed in khakis and blazers on their way to school, mistake them for the children of African diplomats. During the school year, Benji revels in his role as the token African American, invited by the politically correct parents of his schoolmates to attend bar mitzvahs where he can sample exotic food and try to make out with the girls. When summer comes, though, he is free to experiment and invent himself.
The older Benji who narrates the novel casts his satirical eye on the behavior of both African American and white people in an emerging postracial world. As a college student, he reveals, he discovered W. E. B. Du Bois’s doctrine of double-consciousness, that African Americans must struggle to reconcile their outward existence in the white world with...
(The entire section is 1918 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
Booklist 105, no. 12 (February 15, 2009): 5.
Esquire 151, no. 4 (April, 2009): 42.
Kirkus Reviews 77, no. 5 (March 1, 2009): 53.
Library Journal 134, no. 5 (March 15, 2009): 99.
New Criterion 27, no. 9 (May, 2009): 33-38.
New Statesman 138, no. 4949 (May 18, 2009): 48.
The New York Times, April. 27, 2009, p. C1.
The New York Times Book Review, May 3, 2009, p. 1.
Publishers Weekly 256, no. 8 (February 23, 2009): 33.
Rolling Stone, June 11, 2009, p. 90.
San Francisco Chronicle, May 3, 2009, p. H3.
The Times (London), May 9, 2009, p.11.
Vanity Fair, no. 585 (May, 2009): 60
The Village Voice 54, no. 18 (April 29, 2009): 35.
The Wall Street Journal, January 2, 2009, p. W10.
(The entire section is 73 words.)