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Extended Audio Sample Sag Harbor: A Novel, by Colson Whitehead Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,660 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:
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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

  • “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

  • “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.”


  • “Beautifully written.”


  • “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.”


  • “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.”


  • “Delicious.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • 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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by Nana | 1/18/2014

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

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