A girl’s got to read, this all Clutchettes know. So, to help navigate the ever-expanding world of books, Uptown Literati is here to provide a weekly reading list. We’re a fresh, book blog for cool girls and great reads (check us out on our site [uptownliterati.com] and we’ll be dishing on what you need to be reading now: classic tomes, sassy fiction, juicy tell-alls and every type of paperback in between. Happy reading!
Who: African-American novelist Colson Whitehead
What: Sag Harbor. The story of a black teen belonging to a community of upper class African-American professionals and his growth out of pre-pubescence and into self-awareness during summers spent at the gated community Sag Harbor. Using diction and cultural references that lends themselves to the era—the 1980s—Whitehead paints a colorful and humorous sketch of a black teen during the days when ice cream color shirts and jeans, high- top shoes and fades were new fashion statements and not a throwback. Whitehead’s protagonist Benji Cooper is an all-white-prep-school-attending-Lite FM listening-Fangoria magazine-loving teen during the fall and winter back in Manhattan. But during the summers at Sag Harbor his mannerisms morph into a dap-giving-Run-DMC-listening-slang-talking kid. It’s this dichotomy of self in different environments that Whitehead explores in his fourth book.
Why: Using humor in literature requires skill, especially when tackling the issue of race identity. Whitehead’s humor adds a new dimension to the discussion of what it means to “act white” or “act black” without diminishing the significance of the conversation. Through Benji, Whitehead questions what is stereotypical behavior and attitudes of a young black man? How does he fit into or evade the box of black identity? But Whitehead does not approach this question with resentment. Instead, he employs nostalgia to transport the reader back to when they, too, were a teen and how confusing, awkward, and memorable it was for a lot of people, despite your race.
Rating: 3.5 stars