Feature

Novel of the week: Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead

Whitehead's story of 15-year-old Benji Cooper's summer hanging with other middle-class, African-American kids in a Long Island beach enclave is the author's “most enjoyable” novel to date.

(Doubleday, $24.95)

The 15-year-old protagonist of Colson Whitehead’s new novel knows that the world has trouble categorizing him, said Adam Mansbach in The Boston Globe. Benji Cooper spends nine months a year in a mostly white Manhattan prep school and his summers hanging with other middle-class, African-American kids in a Long Island, N.Y., beach enclave established by their grandfathers. Though “little actually happens” in Benji’s life during the summer of ’85, his reminiscences about it add up to Whitehead’s “most enjoyable” novel to date. “Warm and funny” and “beautifully written,” Sag Harbor makes Benji’s riffs on slang, New Coke, and bad pop music matter because they show him “finessing a workable identity.” Unfortunately, Whitehead’s taste for “indistinct” heroes worked better in earlier novels, said Greil Marcus in Bookforum. Here, it means even Benji’s cleverest riffs don’t give readers enough reason to continue. But that astute voice can be reason enough, said Gene Seymour in Newsday. “If you know in advance” that Sag Harbor is faithful to the uneventful spirit of most teenage summers, its languorous pleasures should win you over.

Recommended

The daily gossip: Lena Dunham wants her casket driven through pride parade, Kanye West wears a 'White Lives Matter' shirt, and more
Lena Dunham
Daily gossip

The daily gossip: Lena Dunham wants her casket driven through pride parade, Kanye West wears a 'White Lives Matter' shirt, and more

Kim Kardashian settles SEC crypto charges for $1.26 million
Kim Kardashian
wrist: slapped

Kim Kardashian settles SEC crypto charges for $1.26 million

What Netflix's Dahmer series got wrong
Netflix's DAHMER
Briefing

What Netflix's Dahmer series got wrong

Elizabeth McCracken's 6 favorite books that tackle tough topics
Elizabeth McCracken.
Feature

Elizabeth McCracken's 6 favorite books that tackle tough topics

Most Popular

5 toons about Trump's spiraling legal woes
Political Cartoon.
Feature

5 toons about Trump's spiraling legal woes

National Archives says some Trump administration records are still missing
A view of the National Archives and Records Administration building in Washington, D.C.
More Trouble for Trump?

National Archives says some Trump administration records are still missing

Ukraine takes full control of Lyman while Russian media points fingers
Ukrainian flag in Donetsk
do svidaniya

Ukraine takes full control of Lyman while Russian media points fingers