New England White
By Stephen L. Carter
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375712913, 640pp.)
Publication Date: May 27, 2008
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Lemaster Carlyle, the president of the country's most prestigious university, and his wife, Julie, the divinity school's deputy dean, are America's most prominent and powerful African American couple. Driving home through a swirling blizzard late one night, the couple skids off the road. Near the sight of their accident they discover a dead body. To her horror, Julia recognizes the body as a prominent academic and one of her former lovers. In the wake of the death, the icy veneer of their town Elm Harbor, a place Julie calls "the heart of whiteness," begins to crack, having devastating consequences for a prominent local family and sending shock waves all the way to the White House.
Stephen L. Carter is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale University, where he has taught since 1982. He is the author of the best-selling novel The Emperor of Ocean Park, and seven acclaimed nonfiction books, including The Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion and Civility: Manner, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy. He and his family live near New Haven, Connecticut.
- What does the portrayal of the Carlyle family reveal about the complexities of the African-American community? In what ways does their life represent the historical divide between the entrenched upper class and immigrants and other strivers in American society? What do the beliefs and attitudes Julia grew up with reflect about the specific history and traditions of wealthy, successful blacks? Do they differ from the attitudes of upper-class whites? If so, why do you think this is the case?
“An absolute don't-miss . . . page-turning mystery.” —The Plain Dealer“Earthshaking. . . . Keeps us guessing . . . right up to the intricately deployed end.” —The New York Times Book Review“Carter twists the plotlines like pretzels while wryly skewering America's wealthy intellectual elite.” —People“A testament to [Carter's] formidable storytelling. The novel's satisfying conclusion also points out how irrelevant genre labels have become.” —The Washington Post