To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyses reviews to verify trustworthiness.
With significant fanfare, the release of Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead was well publicised and anticipated in literary circles. It tells the story of Ray Carney, a black furniture retailer in Harlem in the 1960s. His cousin Freddie, connected to hoodlums, gets him involved in the robbery of the Hotel Theresa, an upmarket establishment. Things do not go according to plan as Ray tries to balance his family life, business activities and dubious dealings with the criminal underworld. The flowing narrative and enjoyable characters, so typical of Whitehead’s writing, makes for a three-and-a-half-star rating. In three sections, with subsequent time leaps Harlem Shuffle is more like three novellas and loses its rhythm somewhat.
A wonderfully atmospheric evocation of mid 20th centrury Harlam. Colston Whitehead has created a great set of characters who feel totally authentic. I understand to a native of Harlam and New York that the locations are very accurately described. They include the World Trade Centre being built. Importantly and sadly many of the issues faced by Black citizens then are still being faced by them.
This book did not impress me quite as much as ‘The Underground Railroad’ and ‘The Nickel Boys’, although I have no doubt that it displays the same extraordinary talent. Both plot and style were rather too dense for my liking, and I never really engaged with the protagonist. At times I wondered if Whitehead was deliberately keeping emotional distance between Ray Carney and his readers. The result was that I admired the novel rather than enjoying it. But what brilliant writing, effortlessly fusing literary English and Harlem idiom, and what a wonderful recreation of Harlem and New York around 1960! Whitehead simply does so much so well.
What a brilliant piece of work, reminds me of the early work of James Elroy be(before he became impenetrable) and Elmore Leonard , superb plotting, characters that jump off the page , often just described in a line or two , street smart dialogue, brings the time and place into focus effortlessly. Can’t recommend it highly enough .
Harlem in the late 19503 and early 1960s through the eyes of the not-so-honest proprietor of a furniture shop. A convoluted tale, but with a wonderful sense of the place and time of so much tension. the narrative does wander at times, thus making it hard to follow in places.
Highly enjoyable. A story of a poor man rising to comfortable middle class despite many potential setbacks, surrounded by crime and corruption set against the wealthy becoming the super wealthy. Superb characterisation and excellent scene setting.
Great author makes magic realism come to life with fully rounded characters living harsh, cruel, desparate situations rising above their dire circumstances. Wonderful, lyrical prose detailing heroic struggle of African slaves to overcome barbaric, brutal, cruel, unchristian "masters" A masterful work by a great poet. Monumental, epic life affirming.