White Tears by Hari Kunzru

After three wonderful, exhilarating, life affirming years of marriage to Nicky, my world, my reason, my soul mate, I find myself reflecting on just why she has transformed my life, my whole being.

There are reasons by the bucket load.

Just one example: Books. At various times during my life I’ve been a keen reader. But, it has taken sharing a space with someone who KNOWS how to live in the pages of whatever is in your hands, someone who isn’t afraid to say “I can’t wait to get back to my book”, someone who will happily share two hours in a book shop.

One of our most prized possessions is our Waterstones loyalty card, eagerly watching the stamping at the till as we approach yet another £10 discount.

Wonderfully, also, we don’t do genres, we aren’t confined to fiction or non-fiction. Believe it or not we don’t just read about running, cycling and swimming!

As our ‘to be read’ pile starts to diminish we both start mentally preparing our justifications to unleash another armful of tomes onto the counter on our next pilgrimage.

Books. Yup. We like them.

Anyway, I’m waffling……

I’ve finished a couple of books in the last two weeks, and as I declared on ‘the other blog’ I intend to only write reviews of those I’ve thourougly enjoyed.

I picked up White Tears by Hari Kunzru after having seen off a more standard thriller Don’t Let Go by Michel Bussi. Bussi’s latest work was a great, pacey, page turning who-dunnit-and-why thriller. Enjoyable but perhaps I was ready for something which challenged me further, explored a bit of me.

Well White Tears has certainly done that. A tale of friendship, of hurt, of obsession of darkness which explores its characters to their core.

The geeky lad, playing with technology, exploring sound, forms an unlikely alliance with the cool student. Popular and confident, from an extraordinarily wealthy family, Carter sees Seth to be the curve that closes the circle of his craving.

Carter collects and is absorbed by old blues and rare black music, chasing those rare catalogue numbers on fragile 78s.

Seth’s gathering of obscure sounds using his own obscure technological creations, combined with the scratchy tones of obscure blues recordings becomes an art form in itself.

A chance collision of old and new from their increasingly fractious teamwork sends both their worlds into chaos.

And the story too.

As tragedy and mayhem crowd in on him, Seth’s life becomes a search for the reason behind the cursed recording.

Hooking up with old blues collectors, Carter’s sister, crazy chess players and the characters living in the home of the poor man’s blues, in the deep south.

It is a tale of a young man barely clinging to sanity, told in an increasingly anxious tone as Kunzru dares the reader to turn each page.

Tragedies of old play throughout the challenge of today as Seth is increasingly sucked into the characters behind the torture that created the ‘cursed’ recording.

An exploration into the extremities of the power of music, its role in racial divisions, class conflict and the souls of us all, White Tears is a broken record of a tortured tale. I read it in less than a week, fighting sleep in my urgency to go with Seth to the next town, the next chapter.

Wonderfully following no formula or fitting with any agenda or genre, I would unreservedly recommend it. I do think it will polarise, like Marmite, but I do love a bit of Marmite…….

Published by

Kevin Bonfield

Ordinary bloke, likes a bit of running, a bit of writing, a bit of reading and a lot of loving my beautiful wife ❤

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