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. Download and start listening now!