Loving Day: A Novel (Paperback)
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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
About the Author
Mat Johnson is the author of the novels Pym, Drop, and Hunting in Harlem, the nonfiction novella The Great Negro Plot, and the comic books Incognegro and Dark Rain. He is a recipient of the United States Artist James Baldwin Fellowship, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature. He is a faculty member at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program.
“Incisive . . . razor-sharp . . . Loving Day is 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. . . . While it’s tempting to call Johnson’s novel timely or even prescient, he clearly longs for a time when it can be called historical. Sadly, we’re not even close. Until we are able to have the kind of frank and open conversations about race that are commonplace in Loving Day but rare in the real world, the myth of a post-racial society will remain a comic book fantasy.”—Los Angeles Times
“The politics of his own racial mix is a topic [Johnson has] written about with discernment and a rumbling wit. . . . Loving Day is about being blackish in America, a subject about which Mr. Johnson has emerged as satirist, historian, spy, social media trickster (follow him on Twitter) and demon-fingered blues guitarist. . . . Johnson, at his best, is a powerful comic observer; his punches land. . . . [He’s] a gifted writer, always worth reading on the topics of race and privilege. . . . I loved and will never forget Warren’s definition of what a daughter is: ‘A man’s daughter is his heart. Just with feet, walking out in the world.’”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“Hilarious and touching new novel about family, identity and what it means to truly love other people . . . Johnson is one of the funniest writers in America. . . . [He] gets at the heart of what it means to be a person—and he does so with more skill, generosity and, yes, love, than just about anyone else writing fiction today. ‘Forgiveness comes later in life, after you’ve created enough disasters of your own,’ Warren observes toward the end of the novel. The disasters make us who we are, and the results can sometimes be amazing—as amazing as this beautiful, triumphant miracle of a book.”—NPR
“Giddy, biting . . . ferocious . . . Grand metaphors, unsparing social commentary, sharp characters, and sharper humor help propel the book. . . . Loving Day is a welcome effort from a major talent.”—The Boston Globe
“Writers who are as smart as Mat Johnson are rarely as funny, and those who are as funny are rarely as smart. He is unique, and simply must be read. Loving Day, a tender, ribald, fast-moving novel, is the perfect place to begin.”—Teju Cole, author of Open City
“Hilarious, sometimes discomforting, always brilliant, Loving Day tackles with heart and sly humor identity, family, and finding that elusive place where you belong. This is an awesome, viciously witty novel.”—Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist and An Untamed State
“Loving Day is wonderful satire, sharp and funny about so many contemporary themes and anxieties, including race, money, family, sex, and love. Mat Johnson has a deep comic gift, and his laughs always come with real thought and feeling.”—Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask and The Fun Parts
“This is what happens when races mix: Mat Johnson. Not a soul or a post-soul is spared in his brilliant and hilarious satire of modern American tribalism.”—Danzy Senna, author of Caucasia
“Genius! Mat Johnson is hands-down one of my favorite novelists writing today. He writes about the difficult stuff—the stuff that matters—in the most humorous and heart-wrenching way. Loving Day is Johnson’s triumph and a reader’s great joy.”—Heidi Durrow, author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
“Since this is a book by Mat Johnson, one of the best American satirists since Mark Twain, I don’t have to tell you it’s as funny as it is smart. It’s the most poignant father/daughter story I’ve read in years.”—Emily Raboteau, author of Searching for Zion