Wordfest Presents Colson Whitehead
Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall, Central Library
800 3 Street SE
Wordfest is thrilled to present Colson Whitehead and his new novel Crook Manifesto, which continues his Harlem saga in a powerful and hugely entertaining novel that summons 1970s New York in all its seedy glory. Raves Oprah Daily: “Here are square deals and double-crosses, hijinks and down-lows, lefty militants, a vanished movie star, police thugs, sugary breakfast cereals, a national bicentennial from hell. Plus impossible-to-get tickets to a Jackson 5 concert in Madison Square Garden.”
Your ticket includes a copy of Crook Manifesto and what will be an unforgettable experience. The conversation, which begins at 7 PM MT, will be hosted by Calgary Herald arts journalist Eric Volmers and includes an audience Q&A and book signing.
Shelf Life Books will be on hand with additional copies of Crook Manifesto and the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner's backlist, including Harlem Shuffle, The Nickel Boys, and The Underground Railroad, recently transformed into a "freaking incredible" film by Barry Jenkins.
We are grateful to Penguin Random House Canada for making it possible to connect you with Colson Whitehead.
About Crook Manifesto
Crook Manifesto is a darkly funny tale of a city under siege, but also a sneakily searching portrait of the meaning of family. Colson Whitehead's kaleidoscopic portrait of Harlem is sure to stand as one of the all-time great evocations of a place and a time.
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. His days moving stolen goods around the city are over. It's strictly the straight-and-narrow for him — until he needs Jackson 5 tickets for his daughter May and he decides to hit up his old police contact Munson, fixer extraordinaire. 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. It's getting harder to put together a reliable crew for hijackings, heists, and assorted felonies, so Pepper takes on a side gig doing security on a Blaxploitation shoot in Harlem. He 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 hit men. These adversaries underestimate the seasoned crook — to their regret.
1976. Harlem is burning, block by block, while the whole county is gearing up for Bicentennial celebrations. Carney is trying to come up with a July 4th ad he can live with. ("Two Hundred Years of Getting Away with It!"), while his wife Elizabeth is campaigning for her childhood friend, the former assistant D.A. and rising politician Alexander Oakes. 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.
About Colson Whitehead
Colson Whitehead is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of ten works of fiction and nonfiction and is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, for The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad, which also won the National Book Award. A recipient of MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships, he lives in New York City.
About Host Eric Volmers
Eric Volmers was born in Cambridge, Ontario. And has lived in Calgary for the past 17 years. For most of that time, he has worked as a journalist covering the arts for Postmedia with a special interest in books. He reads a lot.
• "Colson Whitehead Returns to Harlem, and His Hero Returns to Crime." –Walter Mosley, The New York Times
• "Versatile novelist Colson Whitehead returns to the violent world of Harlem crime with Crook Manifesto." –Eric Volmers, Calgary Herald
• "Colson Whitehead Delves into History of His Home in Crook Manifesto." –Emily Donaldson, The Globe and Mail
• "A Dazzling Sequel to Harlem Shuffle." –Jake Arnott, The Guardian