with "Crook Manifesto"

Evening’s NHPR moderator: Rick Ganley

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Colson Whitehead continues his Harlem saga in a powerful and hugely entertaining novel that summons 1970s New York in all its seedy glory.

It’s 1971. Trash piles up on the streets, crime is at an all-time high, the city is careening towards bankruptcy, and a shooting war has broken out between the NYPD and the Black Liberation Army. Amidst this collective nervous breakdown, furniture store owner and ex-fence Ray Carney tries to keep his head down and his business thriving. It’s strictly the straight-and-narrow for him — until he hits up his old police contact, Munson. But Munson has his own favors to ask of Carney, and staying out of the game gets a lot more complicated – and deadly.

1973. The counterculture has created a new generation, the old ways are being overthrown, but there is one constant, Pepper, Carney’s endearingly violent partner in crime. Pepper finds himself in a freaky world of Hollywood stars, up-and-coming comedians, and celebrity drug dealers, in addition to the usual cast of hustlers, mobsters, and hitmen.

1976. Harlem is burning, block by block, while the whole country is gearing up for Bicentennial celebrations. When a fire severely injures one of Carney’s tenants, he enlists Pepper to look into who may be behind it. Our crooked duo has to battle their way through a crumbling metropolis run by the shady, the violent, and the utterly corrupted.

Crook Manifesto is a darkly funny tale of a city under siege but also a sneakily searching portrait of the meaning of family.

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