Mat Johnson’s novel, Loving Day, tells the story of Warren Duffy; a man returning to America after living years abroad. Warren move back to Philadelphia after a failed marriage to a Welsh woman to claim his inheritance from his father: a rundown mansion. Moving back home forces Warren to confront his issues with race. His father was white and his mother was black. He easily passes for white, but identifies more with black culture. Warren soon learns that he is the father of a seventeen year old girl from a one night stand he had when he was a teenager. His daughter had no idea that she is anything except white and Jewish. The rest of the novel follows these two characters struggling with issues of race and identity. There are also elements of magical realism.
Overall, I really loved this book. It’s a truly a story that I have never read before and I liked that. I’m not well read on issues regarding race and I would like to explore this subject matter more.
“I am a racial optical illusion. I am as visually duplicitous as the illustration of the young beauty that’s also the illustration of the old hag. Whoever sees the beauty will always see the beauty, even if the image of the hag can be pointed out to exist in the same etching. Whoever sees the hag will be equally resolute. The people who see me as white always will, and will think it’s madness that anyone else could come to any other conclusion, holding to this falsehood regardless of learning my true identity. The people who see me as black cannot imagine how a sane, intelligent person could be so blind not to understand this, despite my pale-skinned presence. The only influence I have over this perception, if any, is in the initial encounter. Here is my chance to be categorized as black, with an asterisk. The asterisk is my whole body.” (Johnson 18)