A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK • “[Mat Johnson’s] unrelenting examination of blackness, whiteness and everything in between is handled with ruthless candor and riotous humor.”—Los Angeles Times
“Razor-sharp . . . Loving Day is that rare mélange: cerebral comedy with pathos.”—The New York Times Book Review
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The New York Times • San Francisco Chronicle • NPR • Men’s Journal • The Miami Herald • The Denver Post • Slate • The Kansas City Star • San Antonio Express-News • Time Out New York
Warren Duffy has returned to America for all the worst reasons: His marriage to a beautiful Welsh woman has come apart; his comics shop in Cardiff has failed; and his Irish American father has died, bequeathing to Warren his last possession, a roofless, half-renovated mansion in the heart of black Philadelphia. On his first night in his new home, Warren spies two figures outside in the grass. When he screws up the nerve to confront them, they disappear. The next day he encounters ghosts of a different kind: In the face of a teenage girl he meets at a comics convention he sees the mingled features of his white father and his black mother, both now dead. The girl, Tal, is his daughter, and she’s been raised to think she’s white.
Spinning from these revelations, Warren sets off to remake his life with a reluctant daughter he’s never known, in a haunted house with a history he knows too well. In their search for a new life, he and Tal struggle with ghosts, fall in with a utopian mixed-race cult, and ignite a riot on Loving Day, the unsung holiday for interracial lovers.
A frequently hilarious, surprisingly moving story about blacks and whites, fathers and daughters, the living and the dead, Loving Day celebrates the wonders of opposites bound in love.
Praise for Loving Day
“Incisive . . . razor-sharp . . . that rare mélange: cerebral comedy with pathos. The vitality of our narrator deserves much of the credit for that. He has the neurotic bawdiness of Philip Roth’s Alexander Portnoy; the keen, caustic eye of Bob Jones in Chester Himes’s If He Hollers Let Him Go; the existential insight of Ellison’s Invisible Man.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Exceptional . . . To say that Loving Day is a book about race is like saying Moby-Dick is a book about whales. . . . [Mat Johnson’s] unrelenting examination of blackness, whiteness and everything in between is handled with ruthless candor and riotous humor. . . . Even when the novel’s family strife and racial politics are at peak intensity, Johnson’s comic timing is impeccable.”—Los Angeles Times
“Johnson, at his best, is a powerful comic observer [and] a gifted writer, always worth reading on the topics of race and privilege.’”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
Politically correct attitudes regarding racial identity get a satirical skewering in Johnson's (Pym) latest droll turn. Comic book illustrator Warren Duffy, the light-skinned son of a black mother and a white father, has always considered himself black and has benefited from working for publishers who want "an authentic ambiguous Negro for political cover." When Warren returns to his family home in the Philadelphia suburb of Germantown to settle his father's estate, he discovers that he has a teenage daughter, Tal, from a brief high-school fling with a Jewish girlfriend. Tal, unlike Warren, embraces her biracial status and enrolls at the M lange Center, a learning institution dedicated to finding "the sacred balance. An equilibrium that allows you to live a life that expresses all of who you are and hides none of it." Warren's efforts to placate Tal without sacrificing his own convictions concerning race pit him between friends who see the world (as he does) in terms of black and white, and the more militant members of Tal's "Mulattopian" fringe who treat any challenge to their beliefs as a racist affront. Johnson skillfully navigates his novel's sensitive subject matter, seeing the humor in the more absurd behaviors around race. The wit and shrewdness of his approach perfectly handle serious themes.
An Interesting Read
An unusual story that held my interest. A bit unrealistic but the characters are charming and I enjoyed reading about them. Wish I knew what happened next.
Loving Day by Mat Johnson
Mat Johnson has written an instant classic in his semi autobiographical book Loving Day. Loving Day, the unofficial holiday for mixed race couples named for the couple "loving" who successfully fought to be married in the racist South of the sixties, is the back drop for the story of Warren Duffy. Warren, fresh off a divorce, returns home after years away to inherit the haunted house of his dead father at the same time discovering a teenage daughter from a high school one night stand. He meets a group of people who change, invade,curse, and bring love back into his life. This book should be required reading in schools and will remain in the literary zeitgeist forever.