Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Slumberland

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio


A Novel

by Paul Beatty

Slumberland by Paul Beatty X
Slumberland by Paul Beatty
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2008, 256 pages
    Aug 2009, 256 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Amy Reading

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

Print Review

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), click here.

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 well-known composer and arranger as well as saxophonist. The song, which DJ Darky calls "a classic jazz aperitif," features an all-star collaboration between Nelson (tenor sax), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Eric Dolphy (alto sax, flute), George Barrow (baritone sax), Bill Evans (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), and Roy Haynes (drums). Listen to it here.

When DJ Darky and the Schwa finally meet, the Schwa says, "Whikrxx-whikrxx-whurr," which DJ Darky instantly recognizes as a mocking dig at his profession, a quote from Grandmixer D.ST's scratching on Herbie Hancock's "Rockit." Think you don't know this song? You do. Chances are you know the video too, which was a huge hit on MTV in 1983. You can view it here. "Rockit" was the first mainstream song to incorporate scratching, and it irrevocably marked American popular music.

But you'll have to read the book to find out what song the Schwa plays on top of DJ Darky's beat.

This article was originally published in July 2008, and has been updated for the August 2009 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Speak No Evil
    Speak No Evil
    by Uzodinma Iweala
    Young Nigerian American writer Uzodinma Iweala is fast becoming known as a powerful chronicler of ...
  • Book Jacket: Winter
    by Ali Smith
    "God was dead; to begin with." This first sentence of Winter perfectly sets up the dreamy journey ...
  • Book Jacket: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    by Atia Abawi

    When you're a refugee, everyone has lost, at least for the time being... And the journey ...

  • Book Jacket: Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano

    A charming, bighearted novel starring Auntie Poldi, Sicily's newest amateur sleuth.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Anatomy of a Miracle
    by Jonathan Miles

    A stunning novel that offers an exploration of faith, science and the meaning of life.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Balcony

The Balcony
by Jane Delury

A century-spanning novel-in-stories of a French village brimming with compassion, natural beauty, and unmistakable humanity.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One N U G

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.