Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead
A Novel

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Synopsis

From the award-winning author of John Henry Days and The Intuitionist: a tender, hilarious, and supremely original novel about coming-of-age in the 80s.
 
Benji Cooper is one of the few black students at an elite prep school in Manhattan. 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.
 
The summer of ’85 won’t be without its usual trials and tribulations, of course. There will be complicated new handshakes to fumble through and state-of-the-art profanity to master. Benji 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, and by his secret Lite FM addiction. But maybe, just maybe, this summer might be one for the ages.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Colson Whitehead

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COLSON WHITEHEAD is the author of the national best seller Sag Harbor and the novels The Intui tionist, John Henry Days, and Apex Hides the Hurt, as well as The Colossus of New York, a collection of essays. A recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award and a MacArthur Fellowship, he lives in New York City.
 
Published April 23, 2009 by Anchor. 354 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Sag Harbor

Kirkus Reviews

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There might be some distinctions between Benji and Whitehead, though the novelist also spent his youthful summers in Sag Harbor and was the same age as Benji in 1985, when the novel is set.

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The New York Times

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... Review: Jenny Diski's 'In Gratitude,' an Uphill Life on and Off Cancer Road ...
Books. Coming of Age in Sag Harbor Amid Privilege and Paradox.

Apr 27 2009 | Read Full Review of Sag Harbor: A Novel

The New York Times

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In terms of black slang and black culture his attendance at a mostly white private school means that “most of the year it was like I’d been blindfolded and thrown down a well, frankly.” So each reunion with a childhood Sag Harbor friend means a chance for Benji to study and analyze new affectations.

Apr 26 2009 | Read Full Review of Sag Harbor: A Novel

The New York Times

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An undercurrent of abuse in Benji’s house — Dad insults Mom in front of her friends, for example — spills over when Benji doesn’t challenge a boy who drags a finger down his cheek and says, “Look — it doesn’t come off.” When his father learns that Benji didn’t punch the boy, he surmises that Benj...

May 01 2009 | Read Full Review of Sag Harbor: A Novel

The Guardian

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The summer of 1985 is a halcyon one for Ben, 15, and his brother Reggie, 14, left alone in the family's vacation house.

May 16 2009 | Read Full Review of Sag Harbor: A Novel

BC Books

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Sag Harbor is an interesting place because it is a summer haven for African American professional people and families to “come out.” When someone “comes out,” it means they are in Sag Harbor.

Apr 13 2009 | Read Full Review of Sag Harbor: A Novel

Book Reporter

Anyone who has spent time at an East Coast resort, from Maine to the Carolinas, will be able to smell the simultaneously attractive and repellent sweetness of the ice cream shop, relive the tedium of a long summer afternoon and shiver when recalling the chill of a late August night that presages ...

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Sag Harbor: A Novel

Entertainment Weekly

Benji Cooper, the hero of Colson Whitehead's autobiographical fourth novel, Sag Harbor, is one of the few blacks at his Manhattan prep school and a Dungeons & Dragons fan.

Apr 29 2009 | Read Full Review of Sag Harbor: A Novel

The Washington Post

(Whenever the narrator mentions Sag Harbor to white people in New York, they say, "Oh, I didn't know black people went out there.") Straddling parts of East Hampton and Southampton, Sag Harbor is an ancient town by American standards, a whaling community that predates the Revolution (it's mention...

Apr 29 2009 | Read Full Review of Sag Harbor: A Novel

The Bookbag

Summary: Acutely observed picture of an affluent black teenager growing up during his summer vacation in an American seaport.

Sep 08 2012 | Read Full Review of Sag Harbor: A Novel

USA Today

Later some of us got real guns."Sag Harbor is not as ambitious as Whitehead's 1999 debut, The Intuitionist, a racial allegory about elevator inspectors, or his other two novels, John Henry Days, with its fresh take on an old legend, or Apex Hides the Hurt, a parody of brand marketing.It's a novel...

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Open Letters Monthly

Names can serve God or Mammon, but not both: “What he had given all those things,” the (you guessed it, nameless) nomenclature consultant realizes, “had been the right name, but never the true name.” But for an author to satirize the superficiality of commercial society, he has to be conversant ...

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Oregon Live

The good news: Colson Whitehead's fourth novel, "Sag Harbor," reads like a conversation with an old friend, warm, funny and digression-filled.

May 08 2009 | Read Full Review of Sag Harbor: A Novel

Bookmarks Magazine

The Story: In this autobiographical novel, Benji Cooper attends a Manhattan prep school, where other students view his skin color—and upper-class upbringing—as exotic.

Apr 02 2009 | Read Full Review of Sag Harbor: A Novel

Esquire

Everybody digs Colson Whitehead.

Mar 25 2009 | Read Full Review of Sag Harbor: A Novel

Fiction Writers Review

Ben and his family stay in the Sag Harbor area called Azurest: “the black part of town.” “Sag Harbor,” Ben notes, “was outside the rules.” Or, perhaps Sag Harbor is a place where Ben can safely figure out just what those rules are.

May 15 2009 | Read Full Review of Sag Harbor: A Novel

Elle

But something timeless ties Benji to his history, to his memories, and will always mark his summer days: "I will take the world at its word and allow that there are those who have experienced great love in their lives.

Apr 21 2009 | Read Full Review of Sag Harbor: A Novel

APOOO Bookclub

By Phyllis Rhodes • Jul 10th, 2009 • Category: Book Review 2009 • Email This Post • Print This Post Sag Harbor, Colson Whitehead’s last novel, is a delightful romp down memory lane;

Jul 10 2009 | Read Full Review of Sag Harbor: A Novel

Reader Rating for Sag Harbor
65%

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