Sag Harbor

Sag Harbor was published in paperback June of 2010 by Anchor.

Here is a video my publisher made of me talking about the book.

The New Yorker published an excerpt their 2008 Winter Fiction Issue. I did a brief Q & A with the fiction editor of the magazine. It answers this important question:

Q: How is Benji different from you?

A: I tend not to act or feel or talk in a way that would add anything worthwhile to an extended work of fiction. I tend not to do things that lend themselves to dramatic unity, aesthetic harmony, and narrative discharge. My leitmotifs are crappy. I need an editor or someone of artistic bent to shape my useless existence into something that would interest other people. Also, I am a real person.

Here is an annotated map I did of Main Street Sag Harbor that appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

Here is an early piece about Sag Harbor in The Daily Beast.

And a fun interview with TimeOut New York. “Fans of Whitehead's deeply funny and imaginative novels The Intuitionist, John Henry Days and Apex Hides the Hurt—rife as they are with satirical wit and sterling prose—won't be disappointed. But here too is the personal touch of a writer looking back and finding the past still very much alive.”

Publisher’s Weekly gives it a starred review, calling Sag Harbor “a funny and touching story.”

Booklist gives it a starred review as well: “MacArthur fellow Whitehead follows three inventive, satirical, and reverberating novels with a classic entering-manhood tale framed within the summer of 1985... an unusually generous, wisely funny novel about good kids and a society’s muddled attempt to come of age.”

Library Journal says Sag Harbor contains “wonderful, evocative writing, as always, from Whitehead” and is “highly recommended” in a starred review.

Kirkus says it’s “Another surprise from an author who never writes the same novel twice...his warmest novel to date. Funniest as well.”

Bloomberg is very generous: “He can write sentences like nobody’s business, and the deepest satisfaction in this book full of them is his crafty turn of phrase.” Thanks Bloomberg.

The Philadelphia City Paper is very kind and says “True to Colson Whitehead’s reputation, his fourth novel is lyrical and hilarious.”

“By acknowledging that adolescence’s indignities are universal, and that the search for self is endless, Sag Harbor brings this truth home” -- Vanity Fair

“Beautifully written” -- Details

Much thanks to the May issue of Elle: “Colson Whitehead, the MacArthur Award–winning author of such highfalutin metafictions as The Intuitionist and John Henry Days, has now written a supremely intuitive first-person coming-of-age novel...once Benji arrives on the island for the summer, he weaves a spell that is by turns enchanting, mood-shifting, and side-splitting, sharing the sweet, sad secrets of his mixed-up, mid-’80s adolescence.”

Shout-out to my bookselling homies: I’m grateful for your support. The book made the Indie Next list for May, and is endorsed by Sarah McNally of McNally Jackson Books thusly: “Colson Whitehead's Sag Harbor, a coming-of-age novel set in small community of African-American professionals in the Hamptons, is a masterpiece. Is Whitehead the greatest writer of his generation? He bids fair.” Yipes! And How to Furnish a Room, the blog of Wordsworth Books, says, “Whitehead was always very good, always a writer that I admired for his dexterity and wit. But there's a warmth to Sag Harbor that is in full flower here...This is wonderful stuff.” Thanks!




Zone One is an October 2011 publication by Doubleday.

Harper’s did a nice interview with me that lays out the heart of the book.There is an excerpt on their site, and the first 20 pages or so are on Scribd.

Here is a list of movies that inspired the book.

Esquire called it “The best book of the fall,” saying that “Whitehead brilliantly reformulates an old-hat genre to ask the epidemic question of a teetering history — the question about the possibility of survival.”

Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review: Publishers Weekly says: “Whitehead dumpster dives genre tropes, using what he wants and leaving the rest to rot, turning what could have been another zombie-pocalypse gore-fest into the kind of smart, funny, pop culture–filled tale that would make George Romero proud.”

Kirkus is also nice, saying:  “[H]e sinks his teeth into a popular format and emerges with a literary feast, producing his most compulsively readable work to date. Though there’s enough chomp-and-spurt gorefest to satiate fans of the format, Whitehead transforms the zombie novel into an allegory of contemporary Manhattan (and, by extension, America)...”

And Booklist says that “This diabolically smart, covertly sensitive, ruminative, and witty zombie nightmare prods us to think about how we dehumanize others, how society tramples and consumes individuals, how flimsy our notions of law and order are, and how easily deluded and profoundly vulnerable humankind is. A deft, wily, and unnerving blend of pulse-elevating action and sniper-precise satire.”

Library Journal writes: “MacArthur fellow Whitehead, known for his literary paeans to New York city and environs (The Colossus of New York; Sag Harbor), has fashioned a relentlessly bleak and decaying Big Apple made palatable by his biting wit and dark humor. Both gruesome and intelligent, this satiric take on the postapocalyptic horror genre offers the most literary nod to zombie-ism since Mary Shelley”

But the real question on your mind is: slow zombies or fast zombies? Well, I like my zombies like I like my women: slow and implacable.