PositiveBookforumThere is violence and grimness, to be sure, but they are undercut here by the drollness and irony that is emblematic of Whitehead’s earlier works, qualities that he could not readily avail himself of in his two previous books’ representations of enslavement and the institutional abuse of children. There’s an unmistakable wryness to much of the dialogue ... The prose glistens most dazzlingly as Carney peregrinates around the neighborhood ... The conviviality of Harlem, brimming with life and sin of all kinds, produces characters who are almost too human—that is, complex and contradictory in the most mundane but familiar ways ... If crime novels of the early- and mid-twentieth century often provided a glimpse inside the psychology of the criminal, Harlem Shuffle evinces how such a psychology could come into vogue ... By making the novel’s protagonist a self-described entrepreneur who unyieldingly rails against the lawless behavior he so regularly partakes in, Whitehead reveals how structural racism, interpersonal anti-Blackness, and the fantasy of the American dream co-conspire under capitalism, undermining Black community by atomizing success into an individual aspiration and achievement rather than a collective possibility.