Sag Harbor: a novel by Colson Whitehead

by HRevvdon@evpl on Monday, August 17 2009, 8:44pm. Viewed 525 times.

Long Island's Sag Harbor in 1985 is the setting for this novel.  Skillfully written, Sag Harbor (2009) by Colson Whitehead is largely based on his own childhood.

Benji Cooper has been brought up in a privileged private school environment where he is one of the few African-American students.  His family has a summer house in Sag Harbor in a small conclave of African-American families who have had family beach houses for three or more generations.  All the families are interrelated and know all about each other.  Their worlds, to an extent, revolve around this life - especially in the summer.  Benji and his brother Reggie spend the summer without much supervision as their lawyer parents only come "out" to Sag on the weekends.  The boys dread the parents coming out because of their father's drinking and abuse.

But, the story is not about that.  It is very much a coming-of-age story set in a pop culture time that included New Coke, The Cosby Show, and New Wave.  Benji is a great nerd and the humor with which he describes this summer of wonder, while weaving in his past and his future is both funny and touching.

Sag Harbor is a great read, I enjoyed it very much.  I have read several novels about Sag Harbor and its neighboring Hamptons beach towns, this is an Afican-American view of the Hamptons and that lifestyle, but the coming-of-age stories are those of boys everywhere!  I laughed out loud at the lead up story to the BB gun war - that dialog came straight out of my childhood too!  "You'll shoot your eye out!"


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