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Non 1001 Book Review: White Tears Hari Kunzru


We’re starting off the month with a book that gets a rare 5-star rating. Book Worm reviews White Tears by Hari Kunzru. Keep reading to see what she thought.

White Tears by Hari Kunzru
Published in: 2017
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: ★★★★★
Find it here: White Tears

This ARC was provided by Penguin Books UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: Wow I loved this book! It contained so many of my favourite literary devices: a twisted time line, magical realism, a great build up of suspense, and an important message about race relations and how the past impacts on the present. What is there not to love?

This book is captivating from the start and after the first couple of pages, the spookiness starts to build and keeps building until the end. There are hints throughout the book that are only explained when you get to the very end and then you get that satisfying “ahhh” moment. While I didn’t necessarily like all the characters, I was invested in what happened to them and how things would turn out.

The details about the obsessiveness of collectors felt real and the details about the Blues records really made me want to hear these songs for myself. I also loved the details about how modern music is made and how sounds can be used and manipulated.

Favourite quotes

“I wanted to store the world and play it back just as I’d found it, without change or addition”

“There are ways you can use a studio. Things you can do that open up impossible spaces in the mind. You can put the listener in a room that doesn’t exist, that couldn’t exist. You can put them in an impossible room.”

“I had never been inside houses like that. Little shacks patched together with sheet metal and crating. Blackened cooking pots hanging over brick fireplaces, pictures from old calendars pasted up for decoration. I had not thought such places existed, not in America. Honestly, I hadn’t known.”

“Only two reasons people like you come down here. The blues or taking pictures of ruins. We’re fascinating to you, long as we’re safely dead.”

Who would like this? This is an amazing book on so many levels and I think most people would find something to enjoy. So if you like ghost stories, David Mitchell, music, race relations, or just a good story then you need to read this book.

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: White Tears

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. noooo. I can NOT be adding more books to by TBR.


    April 3, 2017
  2. You had me at David Mitchell


    April 3, 2017
  3. Tracy S #

    What’s one more book to the TBR? I think I have room up next to the ceiling in my son’s bedroom…
    This one sounds great, and when BW gives a book 5 stars, I listen!

    Liked by 1 person

    April 3, 2017
  4. Book Worm #

    Hope you both enjoy it 🙂


    April 3, 2017

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  1. April Monthly Recap | The Reader's Room

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