White Tears (Vintage Contemporaries) (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

This visceral, chilling novel is a sort of literary horror story centered around Seth and Carter, two young white audiophiles whose obsession with blues music and "authentic" black culture turns into a cautionary tale of racial appropriation and privilege. When they try to pass off a haunting recording they made of a street musician as a newly discovered 1920s masterpiece by an artist they invent, an eccentric old man hears the recording and insists that the artist was real and that he had heard the record many years before. They have little chance to dismiss his claims as delusional before their own lives begin to spiral out of control. What ensues is a terrifying journey into the deep south, the spectre of racism past and present, and the American heart of darkness. A page-turning, enthralling book, particularly for fans of Victor LaValle and Mat Johnson. 

— From Rachel's Picks



ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The Washington Post - San Francisco Chronicle - NPR - GQ - Time - The Economist - Slate - HuffPost - Book Riot

Ghost story, murder mystery, love letter to American music--White Tears is all of this and more, a thrilling investigation of race and appropriation in society today.

Seth is a shy, awkward twentysomething. Carter is more glamorous, the heir to a great American fortune. But they share an obsession with music--especially the blues. One day, Seth discovers that he's accidentally recorded an unknown blues singer in a park. Carter puts the file online, claiming it's a 1920s recording by a made-up musician named Charlie Shaw. But when a music collector tells them that their recording is genuine--that there really was a singer named Charlie Shaw--the two white boys, along with Carter's sister, find themselves in over their heads, delving deeper and deeper into America's dark, vengeful heart. White Tears is a literary thriller and a meditation on art--who owns it, who can consume it, and who profits from it.

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.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781101973219
ISBN-10: 1101973218
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: February 6th, 2018
Pages: 288
Language: English
Series: Vintage Contemporaries