race, Reading

Reading Beyond: Hari Kunzru

Kunru White Tears

White Tears, Hari Kunzru (2017)

The book you open at the start of White Tears is not the same book you close. Through a series of subtle turns, Kunzru unravels the husk of a story only to twist those threads into a rope thick and stained with blood.

A pair of white college boys run headlong into each other by way of an obsessive affair with Delta blues and the antiquated technologies for playing and recording it. Carter is charismatic and stunningly rich, Seth is bumbling and mostly-poor. Both are cracking along the seams. History and madness start to leak from this fraught relationship, blurring the edges of reality and folding time in on itself.

The true nature of the story tantalizes from corners and memories. Ghost story? Murder mystery? Psychological thriller? Under the skin of a bromance narrative pounds a rageful heart. It is a story of hobbled promise, race and class violence, and America’s legacy of capitalizing on the incarceration of Black men. Kunzru dips into and then out of this fury, barely a splash at first then a little deeper, one unsettling shiver at a time.

The climax plunges us naked into the face of this nation’s most toxic and worst kept secret. The clash between what seems and what happened results in a feat of vengeance that satisfies the conditions of justice while upending any moral balance derived from it.


Image from Publisher’s Weekly

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