Hari Kunzru discusses White Tears

A dazzling novel about race, ghosts, and forgotten geniuses of blues music.

April 9, 2017

Hari Kunzru discusses his new novel, White Tears, with Point Reyes Books' Stephen Sparks.


About the book:

From one of the most talented fiction writers at work today: two ambitious young musicians are drawn into the dark underworld of blues record collecting, haunted by the ghosts of a repressive past. 

Two twenty-something New Yorkers. Seth is awkward and shy. Carter is the glamorous heir to one of America’s great fortunes. They have one thing in common: an obsession with music. Seth is desperate to reach for the future. Carter is slipping back into the past. When Seth accidentally records an unknown singer in a park, Carter sends it out over the Internet, claiming it’s a long lost 1920s blues recording by a musician called Charlie Shaw. When an old collector contacts them to say that their fake record and their fake bluesman are actually real, the two young white men, accompanied by Carter’s troubled sister Leonie, spiral down into the heart of the nation’s darkness, encountering a suppressed history of greed, envy, revenge, and exploitation. White Tears is a ghost story, a terrifying murder mystery, a timely meditation on race, and a love letter to all the forgotten geniuses of American music.
Praise for White Tears:
“A compulsively readable ghost story that features masterly—tour de force—writing about early American blues.”—Rachel Kushner, author of The Flamethrowers
“White Tears is a masterful ghost story about a blues song which may or may not exist, but is definitely alive. Sound, in Kunzru's hands, is both force and material, carrying fear, power, and revenge from body to body. When someone cries "Rewind," proceed with caution. History is audible.”—Sasha Frere-Jones
“White Tears is a hallucinatory and eerily accurate journey into America’s racial unconscious—like an updated version of The Crying of Lot 49, in which race itself is the secret and arcane system that controls all of us in ways we never fully understand. In an era when the past seems to be collapsing into the present on a daily basis, you couldn’t find a more urgently necessary, compulsively readable book.”—Jess Row, author of Your Face in Mine
About the author:
Hari Kunzru is the author of four previous novels. His work has been translated into twenty-one languages, and his short stories and journalism have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, and The New Yorker. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, The New York Public Library, and the American Academy in Berlin. He lives in Brooklyn.