Read Review

White Tears
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Hari Kunzru is the award-winning author of five novels and a short story collection; his most recent book, White Tears, was a PEN/Jean Stein Book Award finalist and listed on many Best of 2017 lists. I picked it up after seeing it on the list of finalists for the community read for New York City and found it to be compelling, haunting and original.

Described by the publisher as “a literary thriller and a meditation on art–who owns it, who can consume it, and who profits from it,” it centers around two college friends, Seth and Carter, who start a music production business, with a focus on serving artists who want their music to sound authentically timeworn, like the old blues vinyl they obsessively collect. One day, Seth discovers he’s recorded an unknown blues singer in a park and Carter puts the file online, where he claims it’s an old recording by a made-up musician named Charlie Shaw. In action-packed and dramatic fashion, both young men find themselves in over their heads, to great consequence, after a music collector tells them their recording is genuine.

The book has a strong start, becomes confusing and a bit muddled at its climax, only to finish in a shocking, if not completely unexpected, manner. Overall, this is a well-written, thought-provoking and timely novel that looks at cultural appropriation and power in American culture head-on. I recommend it to those interested in modern literary fiction or noir mysteries.

 
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6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
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