Book review: Harlem Shuffle — by Colson Whitehead
This is the Harlem of the 1960s, crucible of the Civil Rights Movement, where cultural, religious and political leaders could be found on street corners and in business establishments, teeming with political, social, and economic empowerment activities. Whitehead’s man Carney — Ray Carney, a mostly-upright furniture salesman — is just living his life. He’s a guy you wouldn’t mind spending the afternoon with, he’s relatable, he’s endearing, he’s just a little bit crooked. His in-laws aren’t quite sure he’s good enough for their daughter but Carney knows his wife Elizabeth, and their family, is his love, his motivation. He is decidedly not as bad as his cousin Freddie — if there’s any trouble, Freddie is bound to be tangled up in it — but he does find himself unwittingly involved in one of Freddie’s heists, a big plan to rob the Hotel Theresa, the grand hotel of Harlem, with its stately interior and period architecture, and brand furniture — Carney knows his stuff — beautifully described in detail. Will Carney manage to extricate himself and still take home a piece of the pie? In this love letter to Harlem, the social and cultural setting play a part as central as the hugely-entertaining plot and large-hearted characters. A real grand novel.
— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.
8 New & Forthcoming Black Historical Fiction
Palmares, by Gayl Jones
The Sweetness of Water, by Nathan Harris
The Personal Librarian, by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
Moon and the Mars, by Kia Corthron
Island Queen, by Vanessa Riley
What Passes as Love, by Trisha R. Thomas
Ramadan Ramsey, by Louis Edwards
These Bones, by Kayla Chenault
Contending with a warmish start to the ski season and staff shortages (like nearly every o … (read more)
A production of a Stephen Sondheim musical is always an event, but the master composer’s d … (read more)