Harlem Shuffle

A Novel

Paperback, 538 pages

Published Sept. 14, 2021 by Random House Large Print.

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5 stars (2 reviews)

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 façade 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 of 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?

3 editions

Colson Whitehead really loves character design

5 stars

... and it's the best thing about the book. There's not really a classic tension arc. The book consists of three smaller stories, in different years, slightly interwoven. But the cool thing is not really the three major stories. It's how every single side character has some kind of backstory, smaller or larger, and Colson Whitehead tells you about all of them, sometimes leading to several nested layers of time in the narration. Those little ones are the stories that really make this book a great read.