Book Review: The N-Word of God by Mark Doox

Two-thirds of the way through Mark Doox’s The N-Word of God, the character Saint Sambo asks if you consider yourself “White” (it is a character that is being addressed, but the entire book points a big finger at Y-O-U) and if so, place your “White” hand on the white page to the right where, upon doing so, you can magically see that your white hand is actually light pink or beige. The next pages are for “Black” people to discover they are actually “various shades of brown” (266-271). It is interactive; it is elementary; and it is quite powerful.

Buy The N-Word of God by Mark Doox

The artist and writer, Mark Doox, crafted The N-Word of God with pseudo-Biblical passages interspersed with Doox’ iconographic pieces that he calls Byzantine Dadaism (Byz Dada). Ultimately, the words combined with the artwork are a call for the breaking down of “Whiteness” vs. “Blackness” and how “White” people have co-opted the English language, and especially meaning, to create a world that is inherently racist in its set-up.

In the beginning, we are introduced to Saint Sambo, a “black” messianic/minstrel figure who is obsessed with how language has been manipulated to cause white and black to naturally be opposites and therefore enemies. Halfway through, Saint Sambo is cast out of the ENIGGERMA (the enigma that is where God can be found) and returns to Earth as Satan Sambo to discuss possible solutions to the problem of “White” versus “Black.” Satan Sambo will say, “My question is this–“Can not a Black and White world be equally undone?” (280). Satan Sambo also introduces new words like “hue-man,” “hue-manity,” and “hue-man be-ing” (287).

There is a rich playfulness throughout The N-Word of God. Sometimes the same picture appears three or four pages in a row, and sometimes there are small, important changes on each page. You will find yourself flipping pages back and forth in a fun game of Spot-the-Difference. There are a couple pages of dictionary entries on “White” and “Black.” Often, Doox sends you to a previous page or illustration to further a point. There are lots of fun wordplay and jokes throughout. On one occasion, Doox even sends you out of the book entirely to consult Google.

The book is up-to-date on America’s current socio-political situation and includes the following about “woke/wokeness”: “You know,” Satan Sambo said, “the word ‘woke’ has become a pejorative, a negative word–(for White people). They have co-opted it and have forgotten its origins in harsh Black experience and not just our vernacular. Woke has become something else. Woke’s meaning has changed into meaning (for White people) ‘politically correct bullshit’” (298). Not only is the book “current,” it is delightfully irreverent. Take, for example, the following description of God’s asshole: “The further revelation of the Divine White Booty of God…the Ass Holy of Holy and that smiling curious thing which is inside of it. And what is that smiling and curious thing which is inside the Ass Holy of Holy? “Of course, it is the ever-happy face of White privilege. (78-81) This is immediately followed by one of Doox’ spectacular images: a large, white smiley face with sun rays pointing in all directions.

Every book by Fantagraphics is of the highest quality. This is especially important for an artbook such as The N-Word of God. Heavy boards and a rich cover give the book a needed heft; the end pages are beautiful and, like all the binding, tight and solid. The thick pages help to convey the rich textures and colors of Doox’s Byz Dada artwork. Whether you consider yourself to be Light Pink or Beige in tone, or are one of a Various Shade of Brown, The N-Word of God is a challenging pleasure – one of those rare books that is a must-read.

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Greg Hammond

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