Sag Harbor

Analysis

According to Touré's New York Times review of the book, Sag Harbor speaks to a new generation of wealthy young blacks.[1] In the wake of the election of President Barack Obama and the success of other African Americans in the national spotlight, this story of a wealthy black teenager depicts a situation – "black boys with beach houses" – that was however paradoxical when it took place, in 1985.[1] The novel is a fictional account of Whitehead's life at that time. The 2009 publication of Sag Harbor coincides with what Touré terms the post-black period, when blacks are less noticed for their color and more for their public achievements.[1]

Colson Whitehead wanted to take up a different path in writing Sag Harbor, a novel named after the town in which he used to vacation with his family. In a January 2009 Wall Street Journal article, Whitehead said "Having written a string of books that were heavy on the ideas and social critique, I wanted to try something more modest and personal."[2] His previous books The Intuitionist and John Henry Days thus are quite different from Sag Harbor in style and genre. Sag Harbor, on the other hand, is a very personal depiction of Whitehead's own life as a teenager, giving the novel a much more vibrant context, as Whitehead depicts, in fiction, his own experiences including young love, young hate, and even pop-culture events of 1985 such as New Coke.[1]


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