4.75 out of 5. I reserve 5 star ratings for books that I know that I am going to read over and over again. As important as this book is, my heart couldn’t take a second reading.
For me, this is about the trauma and shame that is embedded in American culture. The trauma and shame of having been a slaver and a slave, a hater and the hated. In this book, I see Colson Whitehead asking us to stop denying the brutality of our collective history. It’s a plea to stop pretending that the wound of slavery can be healed by ignoring it. Even though this is historical fiction, it intersects with today because we are still pretending that horrific race-based injustice doesn’t exist in our country.
As one of Whiteheads character’s says in the book, “America, too, is a delusion, the grandest one of all. The white race believes – believes with all its heart – that it is their right to take the land. To kill Indians. Make war. Enslave their brothers. This nation shouldn’t exist, if there is any justice in the world, for its foundations are murder, theft, and cruelty. Yet here we are.”