Greetings, readers! My name is Sareeta Domingo, and I’m an author and fiction editor. It’s my great pleasure to be bringing you a Book of the Week, each week here on Morning Mari. For my first selection, I thought I’d go with the loose theme of beginnings. So, for this week’s selection, I’ve gone with a debut novel – The White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty.
Beatty is a fantastic writer who uses humour and satire to great effect, most recently in his Booker Prize winning novel The Sellout. But his first novel, The White Boy Shuffle, published back in 1996, is my absolute favourite of his. And it also features my favourite opening lines: “On the one hand this messiah gig is a bitch. On the other I’ve managed to fill the perennial void in African-American leadership.”
The book is a satirical coming-of-age story, featuring young black teen Gunnar Kaufman, who is yanked from his privileged, mostly white neighbourhood in Santa Monica, to a predominantly black neighbourhood in West Los Angeles. Gunnar gradually adapts and begins to thrive in his new surroundings, becoming a basketball prodigy and poet, eventually becoming so renowned and successful that he’s seen as the voice of his generation – a messiah of sorts. Beatty explores black identity and cultural representation with dextrous, clever, laugh-out-loud prose. Trust me, if you haven’t read it already, you’re going to love it. Paul Beatty’s The White Boy Shuffle – my Book of the Week this week!