Synopses & Reviews
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK | NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY San Francisco Chronicle • NPR • Men’s Journal • The Denver Post • Slate • Time Out New York
From the author of the critically beloved Pym (“Imagine Kurt Vonnegut having a beer with Ralph Ellison and Jules Verne.”—Vanity Fair)
comes a ruthlessly comic and moving tale of a man discovering a lost
daughter, confronting an elusive ghost, and stumbling onto the
possibility of utopia.
“In the ghetto there is a mansion, and it is my father’s house.”
Warren Duffy has returned to America for all the worst reasons: His
marriage to a beautiful Welsh woman has come apart; his comics shop in
Cardiff has failed; and his Irish American father has died, bequeathing
to Warren his last possession, a roofless, half-renovated mansion in the
heart of black Philadelphia. On his first night in his new home, Warren
spies two figures outside in the grass. When he screws up the nerve to
confront them, they disappear. The next day he encounters ghosts of a
different kind: In the face of a teenage girl he meets at a comics
convention he sees the mingled features of his white father and his
black mother, both now dead. The girl, Tal, is his daughter, and she’s
been raised to think she’s white.
Spinning from these
revelations, Warren sets off to remake his life with a reluctant
daughter he’s never known, in a haunted house with a history he knows
too well. In their search for a new life, he and Tal struggle with
ghosts, fall in with a utopian mixed-race cult, and ignite a riot on
Loving Day, the unsung holiday for interracial lovers.
A frequently hilarious, surprisingly moving story about blacks and whites, fathers and daughters, the living and the dead, Loving Day celebrates the wonders of opposites bound in love.
“Incisive . . . razor-sharp . . . that rare mélange: cerebral comedy
with pathos. The vitality of our narrator deserves much of the credit
for that. He has the neurotic bawdiness of Philip Roth’s Alexander
Portnoy; the keen, caustic eye of Bob Jones in Chester Himes’s If He Hollers Let Him Go; the existential insight of Ellison’s Invisible Man.” The New York Times Book Review
“Exceptional . . . To say that Loving Day is a book about race is like saying Moby-Dick
is a book about whales. . . . [Mat Johnson’s] unrelenting examination
of blackness, whiteness and everything in between is handled with
ruthless candor and riotous humor. . . . Even when the novel’s family
strife and racial politics are at peak intensity, Johnson’s comic timing
is impeccable.” Los Angeles Times
“Loving Day is about being blackish in America, a subject about
which Johnson has emerged as satirist, historian, spy, social media
trickster (follow him on Twitter) and demon-fingered blues guitarist. . .
. Johnson, at his best, is a powerful comic observer [and] a gifted
writer, always worth reading on the topics of race and privilege.’” Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“Hilarious and touching new novel about family, identity and what it
means to truly love other people . . . The disasters make us who we are,
and the results can sometimes be amazing—as amazing as this beautiful,
triumphant miracle of a book.” NPR
About the Author
Mat Johnson is the author of the novels Pym, Drop, and Hunting in Harlem, the nonfiction novella The Great Negro Plot, and the comic books Incognegro and Dark Rain.
He is a recipient of the United States Artist James Baldwin Fellowship,
the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the John Dos Passos Prize for
Literature. He is a faculty member at the University of Houston Creative