HomeGroupsTalkExploreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

White Tears

by Hari Kunzru

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6054331,487 (3.89)40
White Tears is a ghost story, a terrifying murder mystery, a timely meditation on race, and a love letter to all the forgotten geniuses of American music and Delta Mississippi Blues. "An incisive meditation on race, privilege and music. Spanning decades, this novel brings alive the history of old-time blues and America's racial conscience."--Rabeea Saleem, Chicago Review of Books  Two twenty-something New Yorkers. Seth is awkward and shy. Carter is the glamorous heir to one of America's great fortunes. They have one thing in common: an obsession with music. Seth is desperate to reach for the future. Carter is slipping back into the past. When Seth accidentally records an unknown singer in a park, Carter sends it out over the Internet, claiming it's a long lost 1920s blues recording by a musician called Charlie Shaw. When an old collector contacts them to say that their fake record and their fake bluesman are actually real, the two young white men, accompanied by Carter's troubled sister Leonie, spiral down into the heart of the nation's darkness, encountering a suppressed history of greed, envy, revenge, and exploitation.… (more)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 40 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
Ghost Voices

In human history, voices precluded from speaking, not just lost but knowingly suppressed before anyone can hear them, number in the millions. Charlie Shaw, the pivotal character in Hari Kunzru White Tears, a musician who at first doesn’t exist, then exists as the product of Seth’s and Carter’s imaginations, and finally as a ghost voice reaching out over the years to haunt Seth, and to be heard, finally, can be read as the allegorical representation of these many millions who were repressed by others. You’re left to wonder what the untold lost voices might have said about their own oppression, as does Charlie about his, or what they might have contributed, as Charlie might have to the evolution of the Blues.

Kunzru’s novel opens as a mystery, the mystery of whom the seemingly invented Charlie Shaw was. Seth, something of an amateur sound archeologist, excavating the sounds and voices around him, hears a black chess player in Washington Square sing “Believe I buy a graveyard of my own/Believe I buy me a graveyard of my own/Put my enemies all down in the ground,” the first of five tercets. When Carter, a wealthy guy whom Seth met in art school who likes old-time analog sound and enjoys audibly antiquing recordings, pushes Seth to create a 78rpm version of the song, along with an authentic looking shellac plate and label, they set in motion a chain of events that, in the end, transcend the boundaries of time.

A mysterious collector appears to inform them that Charlie Shaw was real, an early 20th century musical pioneer, and their record must be the missing, and thus very rare, platter recorded at the Saint James Hotel in Jackson, Mississippi in the Twenties. What’s more, he claims it is the very recording sought decades earlier by his collector mentor, Chester Bly, the quest for which drove the man mad. Seth, after Carter turns up beaten into insensibility and in something of a sexually inspired puerile alliance with Leonie, Carter’s sister, retraces Bly’s quest. The consequences not only prove deadly, but the endeavor opens Seth to a sort of possession by the spirit of Charlie Shaw. In this state, he traverses time, often times in a single sentence, in which Carter’s family, the Wallaces, play a prominent part in the art of repression that grows and multiplies into a giant conglomerate, at the heart of which is correctional management, that is, private prisons.

White Tears is a novel that begins conventionally then dashes headlong into an impressionistic exploration of repression and racism, with a side trip into the proclivities of the one-percent. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
Ghost Voices

In human history, voices precluded from speaking, not just lost but knowingly suppressed before anyone can hear them, number in the millions. Charlie Shaw, the pivotal character in Hari Kunzru White Tears, a musician who at first doesn’t exist, then exists as the product of Seth’s and Carter’s imaginations, and finally as a ghost voice reaching out over the years to haunt Seth, and to be heard, finally, can be read as the allegorical representation of these many millions who were repressed by others. You’re left to wonder what the untold lost voices might have said about their own oppression, as does Charlie about his, or what they might have contributed, as Charlie might have to the evolution of the Blues.

Kunzru’s novel opens as a mystery, the mystery of whom the seemingly invented Charlie Shaw was. Seth, something of an amateur sound archeologist, excavating the sounds and voices around him, hears a black chess player in Washington Square sing “Believe I buy a graveyard of my own/Believe I buy me a graveyard of my own/Put my enemies all down in the ground,” the first of five tercets. When Carter, a wealthy guy whom Seth met in art school who likes old-time analog sound and enjoys audibly antiquing recordings, pushes Seth to create a 78rpm version of the song, along with an authentic looking shellac plate and label, they set in motion a chain of events that, in the end, transcend the boundaries of time.

A mysterious collector appears to inform them that Charlie Shaw was real, an early 20th century musical pioneer, and their record must be the missing, and thus very rare, platter recorded at the Saint James Hotel in Jackson, Mississippi in the Twenties. What’s more, he claims it is the very recording sought decades earlier by his collector mentor, Chester Bly, the quest for which drove the man mad. Seth, after Carter turns up beaten into insensibility and in something of a sexually inspired puerile alliance with Leonie, Carter’s sister, retraces Bly’s quest. The consequences not only prove deadly, but the endeavor opens Seth to a sort of possession by the spirit of Charlie Shaw. In this state, he traverses time, often times in a single sentence, in which Carter’s family, the Wallaces, play a prominent part in the art of repression that grows and multiplies into a giant conglomerate, at the heart of which is correctional management, that is, private prisons.

White Tears is a novel that begins conventionally then dashes headlong into an impressionistic exploration of repression and racism, with a side trip into the proclivities of the one-percent. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
Jez Burrows rec. Gorgeous writing, great themes, although the last few dozen pages of 'magical realism'/unstable narrator didn't work as well. ( )
  wordloversf | Aug 14, 2021 |
WHITE TEARS is a jolt of the blues sent directly to your brain. I read this book in a single day and I think that helped me feel immersed in the world, but I also think Kunzru does an amazing job of describing people, places, and action that makes everything come alive. The first half of the book was absolutely riveting to me as it introduced us to our narrator Seth and his friend Carter. I loved the way I got to know them and to understand their bond. I found the style of the second half of the book to be slightly less to my tastes, I’m not a big fan of magic realism and I would put this half in that category, but it still propelled the narrative forward and forced me to think about a lot of things I didn’t see coming. This book has a lot to say about many important current issues but I won’t get detailed about them as they would spoil some of the surprises. It also does a great job of exploring the idea of blues music as well as the obsession of collectors. In the end it is probably a 4.5 but I was happy to round up in this case. A compelling, interesting, and thought-provoking read. ( )
  MarkMad | Jul 14, 2021 |
Just read it. You’re welcome. ( )
  flemertown | Jul 10, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
Hari Kunzru has written a timely novel that demands an examination of the toxicity and perniciousness of whiteness. With razor-sharp insights, White Tears depicts what Greg Tate calls “everything but the burden”: the history of whiteness in the United States as a series of violent appropriations and erasures of black life, black experience, and black culture — which it has attempted to eliminate both physically (the prison industrial complex is but one recent example) and culturally (by turning black culture into commodity fetish).
 
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
I rolled and I tumbled 
Cried the whole night long 
Woke up this morning 
I didn't know right from wrong
Dedication
For Katie
First words
That summer I would ride my bike over the bridge, lock it up in the front of one of the bars on Orchard Street and drift through the city on foot, recording.
Quotations
When you listen to an old record, there can be no illusion that you are present at a performance. You are listening through a gray drizzle of static, a sound like rain. You can never forget how far away you are. You always hear it, the sound of distance in time.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

White Tears is a ghost story, a terrifying murder mystery, a timely meditation on race, and a love letter to all the forgotten geniuses of American music and Delta Mississippi Blues. "An incisive meditation on race, privilege and music. Spanning decades, this novel brings alive the history of old-time blues and America's racial conscience."--Rabeea Saleem, Chicago Review of Books  Two twenty-something New Yorkers. Seth is awkward and shy. Carter is the glamorous heir to one of America's great fortunes. They have one thing in common: an obsession with music. Seth is desperate to reach for the future. Carter is slipping back into the past. When Seth accidentally records an unknown singer in a park, Carter sends it out over the Internet, claiming it's a long lost 1920s blues recording by a musician called Charlie Shaw. When an old collector contacts them to say that their fake record and their fake bluesman are actually real, the two young white men, accompanied by Carter's troubled sister Leonie, spiral down into the heart of the nation's darkness, encountering a suppressed history of greed, envy, revenge, and exploitation.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (3.89)
0.5
1 1
1.5 1
2 8
2.5 2
3 21
3.5 11
4 66
4.5 12
5 29

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 170,100,483 books! | Top bar: Always visible