HARLEM Shuffle by COLSON WHITEHEAD

Harlem Shuffle

Harlem Between 1959 and 1961.

“Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked…”

Carney sells furniture at a good price at his store on 125th Street. He’s married to Elizabeth and they are having their second baby. Times are tight but they are happy.

People like him. They have no idea that he comes from a line of crooks. He may act normal and talk normal, but that seedy side is still inside of him. He isn’t making big bucks so when his cousin sometimes drops off an item, he doesn’t ask where he got it.

When said cousin falls in with a really bad crowd. They are making plans to rob the Hotel Theresa. Fancy for Harlem. A lot of the book is about them planning crimes that go badly.

Unfortunately for Carney, his cousin has volunteered him for the job. His associates believe he is a fence. These are guys you don’t say no to. And things go bad. So badly that Carney has a lot of new associates. And none of them is the good kind.

Now he has to decide. The businessman or the crook. Can he avoid getting killed? Will he finally have some money? Will he still be able to sell his furniture?

This was less violent than the other books. But the racism and crookedness are all there. It’s painful to read but Ray Carney is a character who has a story worth telling.

NetGalley/September 14th, 2021 by Doubleday

No New Frontier stretched before him, endless and bountifulβ€”that was for white folksβ€”but this new land was a few blocks at least and in Harlem a few blocks was everything. A few blocks was the difference between strivers and crooks, between opportunity and the hard scrabble.’

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