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Tag Archives: Mat Johnson

REVIEW: Mat Johnson’s “Loving Day” Proves A Strong Offering In Racial Satire

by Gary StonumIn electoral politics you must choose one candidate. In identity politics, it is often the same. As Warren Duffy, the African American narrator in the 2015 novel Loving Day, tells his newly discovered teenage daughter Tal, “There’s Team White and Team Black, okay? You probably didn’t even know you were on Team White.”Of course, things are not so simple. Like author Mat Johnson, Duffy identifies as black but looks white, “the human equivalent of mismatched socks.” Repeatedly, he must perform his race in order to fit in. Worse, 17-year-old Tal, who is actually darker than her father, has been raised Jewish since her mother died, and was, as her father puts it, “casually racist.”This may sound like the setup for a 21st century update of a tragic mulatto plot.... Read More →

Writing Across Race Can Be Treacherous

Occasionally, a white writer will turn to Mat Johnson, the novelist who created the much-praised “Pym” and “Hunting in Harlem,” with a manuscript and a plea to help avoid a racial blunder. “My colleagues will say, ‘I have a black character, a maid, and I don’t want her to talk like a Harvard professor, but I don’t want her to sound like Stepin Fetchit either,’ ” Johnson told a packed audience in Seattle. “I’m both sympathetic and put off by these requests.” Johnson, who runs the creative writing program at the University of Houston, described this predicament at the annual convention of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. Randa Jarrar, the author of the novel “A Map of Home,” shared a similar experience: “I just got an email two days ago from... Read More →
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