Sag Harbor

Sag Harbor

A Novel

Book - 2009
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The warm, funny, and supremely original new 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 TV. 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 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.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, c2009
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780385527651
Characteristics: 273 p. : map ; 25 cm


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Aug 13, 2019

Really, really disappointing. It's nothing, nothing. I approached this w/ enthusiasm, given all the hype about Whitehead. The descriptions are crisp, but there's no substance here. I stuck w/ it until the end, and am sorry I didn't put it aside earlier.

Dec 16, 2015

"Supremely original" says the publisher's blurb. Maybe if you've never read a book or seen a movie about teens in the summer. I have a bias against contemporary, hyped, middle class, white, New York-living, youngish writers, so I thought I'd try Whitehead, who is all the above, but African-American. His novel-a bland coming of age story set on Long Island in the 80s-has all the weaknesses of his peers (Shteyngart, Lethem, Foer): lazy plotting, cleverness, a lack of depth or nuance. More like "Snooze Harbor" or "Suck Harbor."

Apr 04, 2013

This is an awesome African-American
coming of age story, and I loved it. I am a few years older than the author, and I grew up in the South, but I could
relate to so much in these pages. This work is not as cerebral as his other novels, but was a great read.

Crheneghan Nov 12, 2011

This is one I definitely want to read.


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