With White Tears, Hari Kunzru (Gods Without Men) bends time when two audiophiles happen upon a storied old blues track. Seth is a socially inept weirdo; he builds his own sound equipment and wanders Manhattan, recording the ambient noises of the city. His only friend is Carter, a brooding record collector and producer obsessed with black music. They are rising stars in the music industry. When Seth unwittingly picks up a man's voice singing an entrancing blues song, Carter fixates on it. With a little studio magic, they isolate the song, add a bit of old-timey patina and arbitrarily name it "Graveyard Blues" by Charlie Shaw. Carter posts it to collector forums as a rare 1928 blues single.
That act of hubris launches the duo into a dangerous slipstream, however, when a mysterious collector demands to know where they found the record--and what the B-side is. What follows is a surreal story about obsession, musicology, race and the pathology of white guilt. White Tears is a slippery, daring novel that raises provocative questions about appropriation and reparations. Kunzru conjures a Faustian bargain for the boys who "really did feel that our love of the music bought us something, some right to blackness." --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness