Fleet

  • Author of The Underground Railroad , Colson Whitehead, brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in 1960s Florida. Praise for Pulitzer Prize-winning The Underground Railroad: 'My book of the year by some distance . . . luminous, furious, wildly inventive' Observer 'An engrossing and harrowing novel' Sunday Times 'Tells one of the most compelling stories I have ever read' Guardian Whitehead is a superb storyteller . . . [he] brilliantly intertwines his allegory with history . . . writing at the peak of his game' Telegraph ________________________________________________________________________ Elwood Curtis has taken the words of Dr Martin Luther King to heart: he is as good as anyone. Abandoned by his parents, brought up by his loving, strict and clearsighted grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But given the time and the place, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy his future, and so Elwood arrives at The Nickel Academy, which claims to provide 'physical, intellectual and moral training' which will equip its inmates to become 'honorable and honest men'. In reality, the Nickel Academy is a chamber of horrors, where physical, emotional and sexual abuse is rife, where corrupt officials and tradesmen do a brisk trade in supplies intended for the school, and where any boy who resists is likely to disappear 'out back'. Stunned to find himself in this vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold on to Dr King's ringing assertion, 'Throw us in jail, and we will still love you.' But Elwood's fellow inmate and new friend Turner thinks Elwood is naive and worse; the world is crooked, and the only way to survive is to emulate the cruelty and cynicism of their oppressors. The tension between Elwood's idealism and Turner's skepticism leads to a decision which will have decades-long repercussions. Based on the history of a real reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped and destroyed the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative by a great American novelist whose work is essential to understanding the current reality of the United States.

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  • HARLEM SHUFFLE Nouv.

    HARLEM SHUFFLE

    Colson Whitehead

    • Fleet
    • 14 September 2021

    ''Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked...'' To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably-priced furniture, making a life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver''s Row don''t approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it''s still home. Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his facade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger and bigger all the time. See, cash is tight, especially with all those instalment plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace at the furniture store, Ray doesn''t see the need to ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweller downtown who also doesn''t ask questions. 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. The heist doesn''t go as planned; they rarely do, after all. Now Ray has to cater to a new clientele, one made up of shady cops on the take, vicious minions of the local crime lord, and numerous other Harlem lowlifes. Thus begins the internal tussle between Ray the striver and Ray the crook. As Ray navigates this double life, he starts to see the truth about who actually pulls the strings in Harlem. 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? HARLEM SHUFFLE is driven by an ingeniously intricate plot that plays out in a beautifully recreated Harlem of the early 1960s. It''s a family saga masquerading as a crime novel, a hilarious morality play, a social novel about race and power, and ultimately a love letter to Harlem.

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