Hailed by the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times as one of the best writers of his generation, Paul Beatty turns his incisive eye to mans search for meaning and identity in an increasingly chaotic world. After creating the perfect beat, DJ Darky goes in search of Charles Stone, a little-known avant-garde jazzman, to play over his sonic masterpiece. His quest brings him to a recently unified Berlin, where he stumbles through the citys dreamy streets ruminating about race, sex, love, Teutonic gods, the prevent defense, and Wynton Marsalis in search of his artisticand spiritualother. Ferocious, bombastic, and laugh-out-loud funny, Slumberland is vintage Paul Beatty and belongs on the shelf next to Jonathan Lethem, Colson Whitehead, and Junot Diaz.
If you prefer fleshed-out, psychologically rich characters and a gratifying plot, this is not the book for you. Slumberland is, rather, a book of ideas in fictional form. It is intensely thought-provoking and never has time to be dull as it races through itself. It makes you work to wrap your mind around racial politics in post-unification Berlin and the relationship between race and aesthetic form. And it ends on a note that even DJ Darky, with his phonographic memory, could not have anticipated. (Reviewed by Amy Reading).
Los Angeles Times - Chris Abani
At its core, Slumberland's sadness is that of a black man cast loose in a universe of whiteness, carrying the pure sorrow of never being seen, and an even deeper sorrow of not being able to see himself. Perhaps this is the point of the glib tone -- that one can never truly get to the heart of a difficult question by using tropes and ideas that, while ringing of personal truth, are riddled with cultural sentimentality.
NPR - Troy Patterson
There are very few novelists with Beatty's swinging sense of play, and none — except maybe fellow freakazoid Thomas Pynchon — with the knowledge and nerve to sample John Keats, Afrika Bambaataa, and From Here to Eternity as he does in this sui generis piece of heartfelt absurdism. Give it a spin.
Washington Post - Kevin Allman
With its dictionary delight mixed with cheerfully raunchy, tossed-off outrageousness, Slumberland is like a trip-hop Myra Breckinridge. (If Myra were plying her libidinous philosophy in contemporary America, it's easy to imagine her, like Sowell, dreaming of a "ménage a noir.") What Gore Vidal did for sex and gender constructs, though, Beatty does for race and prominent black Americans, with sacred cow-tipping on nearly every page.
With its acerbic running commentary on race, sex and Cold War culture, the latest from Beatty,...contains flashes of absurdist brilliance..but the plot seems little more than an excuse to set up a number of comic routines, denying the story a driving, unifying plot.
Beatty's rolling Faulknerian prose has been praised for its "dazzling linguistic flights" (Salon), and this newest novel is no different; the dense imagery and sound create a synesthesia carnival.
Starred Review. [Beatty is] not a man for half-measures, especially not for half-measures of rhetoric, and he loves nothing more than turning some anodyne myth or ill-considered conventional wisdom inside out and stomping on it for a while. Rhythmically. Marvelous.
Furiously written…another bravura performance from the searingly talented Paul Beatty. A no-holds-barred comedic romp that crushes through the Fulda Gap of Black/White, East/West relationships like an M1 tank.
Unless you are exactly as hip as Paul Beatty, Slumberland is rife with
Googlable moments, as DJ Darky riffs about jazz and hip-hop and funk. Here are
some of the references that anchor the plot.
Sixteen hours into a marathon rave, DJ Darky reaches into his crate and pulls
out a record that a fellow DJ fears will stir a riot among a bunch of white frat
boys expecting industrial music rather than South Bronx hip-hop. The song that
he plays is Stezo's "It's My Turn," which was all over the radio in the summer
of 1989. It seems utterly quaint and tame in retrospect: "Extra extra, read all
about it / It's me Stezo that has been doubted / I came to make you move and
groove and get down / There's no way that the crowd can sit down." To view the
video (lots of funky dancing in front of the World Trade Towers),
The first song that DJ Darky programs into the Slumberland's jukebox is
Oliver Nelson's jazz standard, "Stolen Moments," from his 1961 album, The
Blues and the Abstract Truth. This album made Nelson into a...
Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fuk - the curse that has haunted Oscar's family for generations.
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