Review: Mat Johnson’s ‘Loving Day’ Takes a Satirical Slant on Racial Identities

Review: Mat Johnson’s ‘Loving Day’ Takes a Satirical Slant on Racial Identities

The New York Times

Dwight Garner, Senior writer and book critic

Mat Johnson’s new novel, “Loving Day,” takes its title from an unofficial holiday, one his narrator likens to “Mulatto Christmas.” It’s the observance of the Supreme Court ruling in Loving v. Virginia, which in 1967 decriminalized interracial marriage in America.

Mr. Johnson, whose previous novels include the excellent “Pym” (2011), is himself the product of such a marriage — his mother is black, his father not just white but Irish white — and the politics of his own racial mix is a topic he’s written about with discernment and a rumbling wit.

In The New York Times Magazine recently, he described learning from a DNA test that he is 26 percent African. “I wasn’t a mustefino,” he said, as if paging through a field guide. “(Who has even heard of a mustefino?) I surpassed octoroon status, too; I was a quadroon with a percentage point to spare.”

“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.

The novel is about a man in early middle age named Warren Duffy, who loosely resembles Mr. Johnson. That is, he’s a culturally sophisticated black man who can just about pass for white. He considers himself “black, with an asterisk,” adding, “The asterisk is my whole body.”…

Read the entire review here.

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