Overdue thoughts on Loving Day

July 25, 2016

I finished reading Mat Johnson’s Loving Day way back in the beginning of June, but I’ve held off on writing about it. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

The writing is superb, that’s not the issue. The characters are complex and interesting. And infuriating and discomfiting.

I am bi-racial. I am the product of an interracial, interfaith marriage. This is how I have always identified and I wouldn’t know how to claim any other identity.

The assertion that by claiming my bi-racial identity I am denying a part of myself or my history (or cultural history) offends me.

And so reading some of the ideas expressed by characters in this book seriously got under my skin. Yet the characters embracing their combined heritage also irked me. They seemed blinded by their rhetoric, unrealistically idealistic, and downright cultish. Basically, all of the characters said and/or did things that I found wrongheaded and upsetting.

And ultimately, that’s why I think that I might have liked the book. The reading experience was uncomfortable and sometimes difficult; it’s hard to hear unflattering opinions about a group with which you identify, but reading those things helped me think about the various kinds of racial identity in a different way. I haven’t changed my mind about how I identify myself, but I appreciate the glimpse into a different perspective.

 

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2 Responses to “Overdue thoughts on Loving Day”

  1. sneezypb said

    I am about halfway through Loving Day. The sense I get is Johnson wrote this as a satirical take on the issues surrounding identity, especially for those of us who are mixed. He caricatures stereotypes to show how even us mixed people have issues. My identity is something I have thought long and hard about over the years, but at the same time my views have shifted.

    • Yeah, while I think it’s couched in satire, these are beliefs that I have heard people seriously express.
      Identity is this crazy, amorphous thing that is hard to pin down and I think Johnson tackles these questions in an interesting way.

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