In a recent New York Times article titled “A Crop of New Novels About Race and Racism Finds Freedom in Satire,” Chinelo Okparanta (CRF 2015) discusses her use of satire and surrealism in her new book Harry Sylvester Bird as a way to “‘[write] about the pain that has been endured by being on the other side of whiteness.’”

“In Chinelo Okparanta’s new novel, a young white man is disgusted by his bigoted, small-town parents. Some of his reactions are typical: He disavows their views and moves to New York City. Others, though, are decidedly strange: He starts calling himself G-Dawg, joins a self-help group for white people ashamed of their race — and begins to identify as a Black man from Africa.

Yes, Okparanta knows the premise might cause offense.

When she began working on a novel about well-meaning white people who are blind to their own bigotry, Okparanta, who is Nigerian American, realized the topic was explosive. She was, after all, wading into a fraught debate about racism and identity politics at a moment when those issues were supercharged by George Floyd’s murder and the protests that followed. So she resorted to satire.”

Read the full article here.