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Harlem Shuffle: A Novel Hardcover – September 14, 2021

4.3 out of 5 stars 10,428 ratings

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From the Publisher

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of September 2021: Colson Whitehead’s latest is a blisteringly entertaining novel of schemers and dreamers, mobsters and crooks, elaborate heists and furniture fronts, and the thrilling mischief of those who are up to no good and others who are just trying to make a living. Caught between his family’s penchant for shady deals and his desire to be clean, Ray Carney sits at the center of this swirling drama set in 1960s Harlem. A tribute to the city, the momentum of life, and the duality that lies in each of us, Harlem Shuffle is a lot of fun to read and another great offering by two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author Colson Whitehead. —Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor

Review

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEARNATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE NOMINEE New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books of the Year • One of The Washington Posts 50 Notable Works of Fiction of the Year • TIME Magazine 100 Must Read Books of the Year • One of the Best Books of the Year: NPR, Slate, Boston Globe, Town & Country, Vulture, and more One of President Obama's Favorite Books of the Year • One of The New York Times Critics' Best Books of the Year

“A rich, wild book that could pass for genre fiction. It’s much more, but the entertainment value alone should ensure it the same kind of popular success that greeted his last two novels,
The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys."
-
Janet Maslin, The New York Times

One of the Ten Best Books of 2021
Laura Miller, Slate

“Colson Whitehead has a couple of Pulitzers under his belt, along with several other awards celebrating his outstanding novels.
Harlem Shuffle is a suspenseful crime thriller that's sure to add to the tally — it's a fabulous novel you must read.”
-
NPR.org

“A warm, involving novel” 
-The Wall Street Journal

“A a fiendishly clever romp, a heist novel that’s also a morality play about respectability politics, a family comedy disguised as a noir…Harlem Shuffle reads like a book whose author had enormous fun writing it. The dialogue crackles and sparks; the zippy heist plot twists itself in one showy misdirection after another. Most impressive of all is lovable family-man Ray, whose relentless ambition drives the plot forward while his glib salesman’s patter keeps you guessing about his true intentions. This book is a blast that will make you think, and what could be better than that?”
-Vox

“Another triumph from Pulitzer winner Whitehead” 
-People Magazine

“Fast-paced, keen-eyed and very funny, “Harlem Shuffle” is a novel about race, power and the history of Harlem all disguised as a thrill-ride crime novel.” 
-San Francisco Chronicle

“Enthralling, cinematic…Whitehead's evocation of early 1960s Harlem — strewn with double-crosses and double standards, broken glass and broken dreams — is irresistible…a valentine to a time and place.”
-Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Dazzling…exciting and wise.”
-Walton Muyumba, The Boston Globe

“A spectacularly pleasurable read, and while it is, of course, literary, it’s also a pure, unapologetic crime-fiction page-turner.” 
-Los Angeles Times

Harlem Shuffle is a wildly entertaining romp. But as you might expect with this two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and MacArthur genius, Whitehead also delivers a devastating, historically grounded indictment of the separate and unequal lives of Blacks and whites in mid-20th century New York."
-Associated Press

“An American master”
-New York Times Book Review

“Two-time Pulitzer winner Whitehead (
The Nickel Boys) returns with a sizzling heist novel set in civil rights–era Harlem. It’s 1959 and Ray Carney has built an ‘unlikely kingdom’ selling used furniture. A husband, a father, and the son of a man who once worked as muscle for a local crime boss, Carney is ‘only slightly bent when it [comes] to being crooked.’ But when his cousin Freddie—whose stolen goods Carney occasionally fences through his furniture store—decides to rob the historic Hotel Theresa, a lethal cast of underworld figures enter Carney’s life, among them the mobster Chink Montague, “known for his facility with a straight razor”; WWII veteran Pepper; and the murderous, purple-suited Miami Joe, Whitehead’s answer to No Country for Old Men’s Anton Chigurh. These and other characters force Carney to decide just how bent he wants to be. It’s a superlative story, but the most impressive achievement is Whitehead’s loving depiction of a Harlem 60 years gone—‘that rustling, keening thing of people and concrete’—which lands as detailed and vivid as Joyce’s Dublin. Don’t be surprised if this one wins Whitehead another major award.”
-Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Whitehead adds another genre to an ever-diversifying portfolio with his first crime novel, and it's a corker. Ray Carney owns a furniture store in Harlem. When the novel begins in 1959, he's selling mostly used furniture, struggling to escape the legacy of his criminal father. ‘Living taught you,’ Ray believes, ‘that you didn't have to live the way you'd been taught.’ Almost. Ray's ne'erdo-well cousin, Freddie, who's been luring Ray into hot water since childhood (‘I didn't mean to get you in trouble,’ is Freddie's constant refrain) regularly brings Ray the odd piece of jewelry, provenance unknown, which Ray peddles to a dealer downtown, building a stake to invest in his business. ‘There was a natural flow of goods in and out and through people's lives . . . a churn of property, and Ray facilitated that churn.’ It works until Freddie suggests Ray as a fence for a jewel heist at the Hotel Theresa (‘the Waldorf of Harlem’), and suddenly the churn produces a potentially disastrous backwash. Following Ray as his business grows and he delicately balances the crooked and straight sides of his life, 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, Starred Review




Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Doubleday; First Edition (September 14, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 336 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0385545134
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0385545136
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.4 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.31 x 1.2 x 9.52 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 10,428 ratings

About the author

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Colson Whitehead is the author eight novels and two works on non-fiction, including The Underground Railroad, which received the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Carnegie Medal, the Heartland Prize, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Hurston-Wright Award, and was longlisted for the Booker Prize. The novel is being adapted by Barry Jenkins into a TV series for Amazon. Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys received the Pulitzer Prize, The Kirkus Prize, and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction.

A recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship, he lives in New York City.

Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
10,428 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on September 18, 2021
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Reviewed in the United States on September 19, 2021
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Reviewed in the United States on September 19, 2021
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Reviewed in the United States on September 17, 2021
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Top reviews from other countries

Mr. A. Q. Kopp
5.0 out of 5 stars Colston Whitehead on Top Form
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 30, 2021
3 people found this helpful
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Norman Housley
5.0 out of 5 stars Another outstanding novel from this exceptional author
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 9, 2021
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Mr. Nicholas Blatch
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful writing.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 14, 2021
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Donny Rock
3.0 out of 5 stars Meandering story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 20, 2021
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Gordon Heskett
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting trip through Harlem in the early 60's
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 18, 2022
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