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Harlem Shuffle (Paperback)Colson Whitehead (author)
Set in a richly evoked 1960s Harlem, the award-winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys spins a meticulously plotted and paced tale of petty criminals and failed heists, which masks a deeper meditation on morality versus expediency and the difficulty of leading a good life in a bad world.
Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked...'
To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably-priced furniture, making a life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver's Row don't approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it's still home.
Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger and bigger all the time.
See, cash is tight, especially with all those instalment plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace at the furniture store, Ray doesn't see the need to ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweller downtown who also doesn't ask questions.
Then Freddie falls in with a crew who plan to rob the Hotel Theresa - the 'Waldorf of Harlem' - and volunteers Ray's services as the fence. The heist doesn't go as planned; they rarely do, after all. Now Ray has to cater to a new clientele, one made up of shady cops on the take, vicious minions of the local crime lord, and numerous other Harlem lowlifes.
Thus begins the internal tussle between Ray the striver and Ray the crook. As Ray navigates this double life, he starts to see the truth about who actually pulls the strings in Harlem. Can Ray avoid getting killed, save his cousin, and grab his share of the big score, all while maintaining his reputation as the go-to source for all your quality home furniture needs?
Harlem Shuffle is driven by an ingeniously intricate plot that plays out in a beautifully recreated Harlem of the early 1960s. It's a family saga masquerading as a crime novel, a hilarious morality play, a social novel about race and power, and ultimately a love letter to Harlem.
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Number of pages: 336
Weight: 270 g
Dimensions: 196 x 124 x 26 mm
'A sizzling heist novel set in civil rights-era Harlem . . . It's a superlative story, but the most impressive achievement is Whitehead's loving depiction of a Harlem 60 years gone, which lands as detailed and vivid as Joyce's Dublin. Don't be surprised if this one wins Whitehead another major award.' - Publishers Weekly
'Whitehead adds another genre to an ever-diversifying portfolio with his first crime novel, and it's a corker... Whitehead delivers a portrait of Harlem in the early '60s, culminating with the Harlem Riot of 1964, that is brushed with lovingly etched detail and features a wonderful panoply of characters who spring to full-bodied life, blending joy, humor, and tragedy. A triumph on every level.' - Booklist
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I could read Colson Whitehead's shopping list and review as "a fantastic read, master storytelling and character development".
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“Enjoyable caper novel set in 50s/60s Harlem”
I was keen to read this novel having previously enjoyed 'The Underground Railroad' and 'The Nickel Boys'. 'Harlem Shuffle' further demonstrates Whitehead's versatility as a writer,... More
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