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Extended Audio Sample Sag Harbor: A Novel Audiobook, by Colson Whitehead Click for printable size audiobook cover
2.85 out of 52.85 out of 52.85 out of 52.85 out of 52.85 out of 5 2.85 (27 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Colson Whitehead Narrator: Mirron Willis Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2009 ISBN: 9780739381915
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A warm, funny, and supremely original novel from one of the most acclaimed writers in America

The year is 1985. Benji Cooper is one of the only black students at an elite prep school in Manhattan. He spends his falls and winters going to roller-disco bar mitzvahs, playing too much Dungeons and Dragons, and trying to catch glimpses of nudity on late-night cable. After a tragic mishap on his first day of high school—when Benji reveals his deep enthusiasm for the horror movie magazine Fangoria—his social doom is sealed for the next four years.

But every summer, Benji escapes to the Hamptons, to Sag Harbor, where a small community of African American professionals have built a world of their own. Because their parents come out only on weekends, he and his friends are left to their own devices for three glorious months. And although he’s just as confused about this all-black refuge as he is about the white world he negotiates the rest of the year, he thinks that maybe this summer things will be different. If all goes according to the plan, that is.

There will be trials and tribulations, of course. There will be complicated new handshakes to fumble through, and state-of-the-art profanity to master. He will be tested by contests big and small, by his misshapen haircut (which seems to have a will of its own), by the New Coke Tragedy of ’85, and by his secret Lite FM addiction. But maybe, with a little luck, things will turn out differently this summer.

In this deeply affectionate and fiercely funny coming-of-age novel, Whitehead—using the perpetual mortification of teenage existence and the desperate quest for reinvention—lithely probes the elusive nature of identity, both personal and communal.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Imagine a younger version of Bill Cosby, only more lyrical and far racier, with added literary and sociocultural references at his disposal, and a greater familiarity with what the book terms ‘the insistent gray muck that was pop culture’ as it seeped through the 80s.”

    Newsday

  • “Beautifully written.”

    Details

  • “By acknowledging that adolescence’s indignities are universal, and that the search for self is endless, Sag Harbor brings this truth home.”

    Vanity Fair

  • “Weaves a spell that is by turns enchanting, mood-shifting, and side-splitting.”

    Elle

  • “Surges and sings…Stokes our emotions and intellect at once.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “Whitehead has tapped the most classic summer-novel activity of all: nostalgia…The pleasure is in the way Whitehead recalls it, in loving and lingering detail.”

    Time

  • “Delicious.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Effortlessly readable…Masterful at recreating the organized chaos of the teenage mind.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “Ebullient, supremely confident.”

    San Diego Union-Tribune

  • “Just as Benji is in the process of remaking himself, one gets the feeling after reading Sag Harbor that Whitehead is taking his first artistic steps away from what has come to be expected from ‘Colson Whitehead.’ And it’s safe to say, we’re happy, and very lucky, to have both the who he was and the who he’ll become out there, telling us like it is.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Whitehead has a David Foster Wallace-esque knack for punctuating meticulously figurative constructions with deadpan slacker wit.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “The novel’s eight chapters are, in effect, masterful short stories [that] riff on the essential quests of teenage boys: BB guns, nude beaches, beer, and, above all, the elusive secret to fitting in.”

    Washington Post

  • “Warm and funny, carefully observed, and beautifully written…Whitehead seems to be having the time of his life.”

    Boston Globe

  • A 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist for Fiction
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • Selected for the May 2009 Indie Next List
  • One of the 2009 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Janet | 2/14/2014

    " A nerdy black teen spends summers in the Hamptons in the 80's. A beautiful depiction of the times, but his style of writing gets annoying. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Denise Cormaney | 1/24/2014

    " It started out great, and I could definitely relate to all the pop culture references and just being a teenager in the '80s. I felt like the author set up a great story and wrote a great character, but then the book just kind of went no where. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Thomas | 1/24/2014

    " Whitehead's account of one summer in Sag Harbor, a black enclave in the Hamptons, will make you laugh out loud. But it also forces you to think about parents and growing up. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nana | 1/18/2014

    " wanted to like it more than i did! loved the writing, but as a novel the plot felt somewhat disjointed. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 S | 1/15/2014

    " Nice to revisit my youth, the 1980s never looked more richly vital. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Zinaj | 1/15/2014

    " "Witty, funny and lets u see dif side of black america. Not so much the subject matter, but the undertones is stuff u and I talk about a lot. Race percpt, our own piece of paradise" Recommendation by VT "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lori | 1/13/2014

    " Not sure if it was the fact that I've never been to Sag Harbor or because the story is about teen-aged boys, but I couldn't get through this book. I found the writing to be too wordy and difficult to read more than a few pages at a time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 ohradiogirl | 12/27/2013

    " Took me a while to get used to his style of writing ... lots of parentheses and side stories. It was an okay read and anti-climatic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gretchen Achilles | 12/24/2013

    " This meandered a bit, but in a good way. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Josh | 12/20/2013

    " My love affair with Whitehead is just beginning, but I can see this growing to something very special. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gabe | 12/16/2013

    " Good coming of age kind of book, fun read "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Hadley | 11/23/2013

    " Whitehead is certainly a talented writer, but this novel was just much too character driven and slow moving for my tastes. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Meredith | 8/28/2013

    " Started it - no interest in finishing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Miya | 12/29/2012

    " A good coming of age in the 1980's story. A kind of geeky upper middle class boy summers in Sag Harbor. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Rosanne | 7/20/2012

    " Oh no, wrong choice for me. This is a book that I am glad I borrowed from the library because now I am not compelled to read it. After several pages, I decided not worth the read :( "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Misterentropy | 6/19/2012

    " the coming of age novel done right. rambling and thoughtful and full of nostalgia and music and served up in a satisfyingly dense lump that might not have a conclusive point, so to speak, but that's how it is looking backward. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kim | 1/10/2012

    " Probably a 2.5 star, listened while I uploaded theses at work. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carletta | 12/12/2011

    " Far too detailed in some spots, lots of verbiage. Charming in spots. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dannielle | 6/9/2011

    " The book gave insight to the "black elite" that "summered" in the Hamptons. However, the summer in the life of a 16yr old was lack-luster. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Frances | 6/3/2011

    " This was a great book to read at the beginning of summer.

    Benji is a Manhattan kid whose family spends their summers outin Sag Harbor. He is 18 in 1985, so it seems close enough to my age to resonate from a time-period standpoint. Very evocative of time and place and culture. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eric | 5/18/2011

    " A mildly enjoyable read with some funny moments. A pretty good book club discussion followed. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mike | 4/21/2011

    " 2.5 stars - some good 80s nostalgia stuff, goes off on some deep tangents sometimes though "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lena | 4/20/2011

    " I did not like this book; boring and too wordy. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Michelle | 4/10/2011

    " Big expectations lead to big disappointment. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Caroline | 4/9/2011

    " Interesting commentary on race and adolescence, but written too much like I imagine a teenage boy's mind works to really be readable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 3/27/2011

    " Full of fun 80s pop culture references, this book brought me back to what it was like for adolescence. A fun read with a very simple wrap up. Great slice of life story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katie | 2/13/2011

    " Not much of a plot to stick to, but some great moments. Also raised some interesting questions in my book club discussion. His Coke-stealing scene really did have me laughing out loud. "

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About the Author
Author Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous books. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and recipient of a Whiting Award and a MacArthur Fellowship.

About the Narrator

Mirron Willis—actor of film, stage, and television—is the winner of the prestigious Audie Award for best narration in 2012 and a finalist for the Audie in 2015, as well as the winner of four AudioFile Earphones Awards for his audiobook recordings. He has worked extensively in film and television and on stage with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Houston Shakespeare Festival, and the Ensemble Theatre, among others. He has recorded some 150 audiobooks, including the Smokey Dalton series by Kris Nelscott and My Song by Harry Belafonte. He resides and records audiobooks on his family’s historic ranch in East Texas.