From the author of the Man Booker longlisted The Underground Railroad
Benji spends most of the year as one of the only black kids at an elite prep school in Manhattan, going to roller disco bar mitzvahs, desperately trying to find his place in the social hierarchy.
Then he spends his summers in the African-American community of Sag Harbor on Long Island, and is just as confused. He's way behind on the latest handshakes, baffled by new slang, and his attempts to be cool and meet girls are constantly thwarted by his extremely awkward inner geek, braces and a badly cut Afro.
It's the summer of 1985 and Benji is determined that this is the summer when things will change and he'll fit in. For starters, he'll be reinvented as 'Ben'. When that doesn't catch on, it's another summer of the perpetual mortification that is teenage existence.
The ultimate coming of age tale
A universal tale of adolescent angst
Whitehead proves himself, among other things, a poet of the American summer and its aspirations...remarkable
it is impossible not to like Sag Harbor and its genuinely empathetic, intelligent tone
Whitehead has tapped the most classic summer-novel activity of al: nostalgia
We asked five Penguin authors whose work explores racism, in fiction and nonfiction, to share the books they feel are crucial to understanding – and then acting on – racial injustice at home and worldwide.