FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD (Now a major Amazon Prime TV show)
'Gloriously entertaining' Evening Standard
'A rich, wild book' New York Times
'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 faÃ§ade 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.
'An American master'
New York Times Book Review
To his customers and neighbours on 125th street, Ray Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture, making a decent life for himself and his family. Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his faÃ§ade of normality has more than a few cracks in it.
Cash is tight, especially with all those installment-plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace, Ray doesn't ask where it comes from. 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.
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?
'A spectacularly pleasurable read, and while it is, of course, literary, it's also a pure, unapologetic crime-fiction page-turner'
Los Angeles Times
Whitehead's latest book, Harlem Shuffle, finds its centre of gravity in Harlem, New York,transporting readers to the precipice of the civil rights movement in the late 1950s and early 1960s, a moment when Harlem uprisings were remaking the literal and political landscape.From here he crafts a brilliant crime novel that doubles as a meditation on the nature of black geography...It is Carney's effort to reconcile the straight and the crooked, the desire to strive for a homeon the river, and the pull of the criminal underbelly, that propels the book forwardWildly entertaining...Whitehead also delivers a devastating, historically grounded indictment of the separate and unequal lives of Blacks and whites in mid-20th century New York. The plot he devised for Harlem Shuffle offered a new, high-geared narrative engine to play with, but it also gave him a way to explore ideas about the slippery nature of morality, power (and who holds it), and the social hierarchies of criminal subculturesA 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 awardWhitehead 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