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One Day-Review: Coleson Whitehead’s love for black and New York, a tribute to the 1960s

One Day-Review: Coleson Whitehead’s love for black and New York, a tribute to the 1960s


“Harlem Shuffle”, Coleson Whitehead (Doubleday)

Ray Carney is the kind of outlaw you want to support because he is kind, generous, loves his wife and family, and “just bends slightly when cheated.” He is the hard-working and ambitious anti-hero of “Harlem Shuffle”, which is Coleson Whitehead’s love of noir fiction and his nostalgic view of the city that never sleeps in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This book is one of the finalists for this year’s Kirks Award.

Unlike his first two books “Underground Railroad” and “Nickel Boy”, which deal with serious social justice topics such as slavery and the segregated juvenile justice system in Florida, “Harlem Shuffle” is a Very interesting frolic. But, as you would expect from this two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and MacArthur genius, Whitehead also made a devastating and historically valid view of the separation and unequal life of blacks and whites in New York in the mid-twentieth century. Complaint.

Like many robbery novels, the plot is tortuous, with a large number of sometimes dazzling characters and some near-ridiculous storylines. What connects all of this is Carney’s completely credible and complex character, a furniture store owner and small fence, desperately trying to enter the middle class.

Carney’s hapless cousin Freddie is involved in a brazen conspiracy to rob the historic Hotel Theresa, and introduces Ray to a group of annoying but colorful killers, crooks, and all kinds of unethical people. The plot This unfolds. Carney got deeper and deeper, mainly out of loyalty to Freddy, who grew up like a brother.

But things are not that simple. Carney also has his own demons, mainly because of the huge bargaining chips on his shoulders and the excessive desire for revenge. It may be because his rogue father abandoned him and his mother. Or because his in-laws look down on him, because his skin is darker than their beloved daughter. Or because of the insults he faces every day as a black man in the United States—or a combination of the three.

Part of the suspense – and how this novel differs from many other novels in the cold crime genre – comes from doubting whether Ray’s better angels will prevail. In countless beautiful and knowledgeable passages, Whitehead brought us into Lei’s mind when considering the relationship between father and son and whether inheritance is a question of fate. “Carney’s father was crooked, but that didn’t make him so. It just meant that he knew how that particular production line worked.”

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