For fans of Jordan Peele's Get Out, White Tears is a read that will get under your skin. It starts slowly, building the relationship between two young white dudes who bond over old blues records and discover a mysterious track. The second half gets wild, jumping around in time and perspective, building to a dizzying delight of a finale. Recommended By Britney T., Powells.com
What a book! Kunzru does something so far off the charts here, it's almost unbelievable. At its heart, this is a book about race, prejudice, white supremacy, and cultural appropriation. Kunzru manages to show just how rotten to the core race relations in the US are, through his two young, clueless, white guys who are obsessed with black music. Midway through the book, it jumps completely off the track and turns into another story all together. Kunzru's writing is gorgeous, even while depicting the horrific, and he turns this off-kilter story into pure genius. Watch for the nod to Claudia Rankine's Citizen at the end. This book is unlike anything you've read before; don't miss it. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
From one of the most talented fiction writers at work today: two ambitious young musicians are drawn into the dark underworld of blues record collecting, haunted by the ghosts of a repressive past.
Two twenty-something New Yorkers. Seth is awkward and shy. Carter is the glamorous heir to one of America's great fortunes. They have one thing in common: an obsession with music. Seth is desperate to reach for the future. Carter is slipping back into the past. When Seth accidentally records an unknown singer in a park, Carter sends it out over the Internet, claiming it's a long lost 1920s blues recording by a musician called Charlie Shaw. When an old collector contacts them to say that their fake record and their fake bluesman are actually real, the two young white men, accompanied by Carter's troubled sister Leonie, spiral down into the heart of the nation's darkness, encountering a suppressed history of greed, envy, revenge, and exploitation. White Tears is a ghost story, a terrifying murder mystery, a timely meditation on race, and a love letter to all the forgotten geniuses of American music.
"White Tears is a masterful ghost story about a blues song which may or may not exist, but is definitely alive. Sound, in Kunzru’s hands, is both force and material, carrying fear, power, and revenge from body to body. When someone cries "Rewind," proceed with caution. History is audible." Sasha Frere-Jones
"White Tears is a hallucinatory and eerily accurate journey into America’s racial unconscious — like an updated version of The Crying of Lot 49, in which race itself is the secret and arcane system that controls all of us in ways we never fully understand. In an era when the past seems to be collapsing into the present on a daily basis, you couldn’t find a more urgently necessary, compulsively readable book." Jess Row, author of Your Face in Mine
"A compulsively readable ghost story that features masterly — tour de force — writing about early American blues." Rachel Kushner, author of The Flamethrowers
"Kunzru has done his homework on racial history and white privilege, but the novel is also lifted on his sharp descriptions of music, which he makes so concrete and delectable you understand why his misguided, ill-fated heroes fall so hard for it. A well-turned and innovative tale that cannily connects old-time blues and modern-day minstrelsy." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
About the Author
Hari Kunzru is the author of four previous novels. His work has been translated into twenty-one languages, and his short stories and journalism have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, and The New Yorker. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, The New York Public Library, and the American Academy in Berlin. He lives in Brooklyn.