January Book Club: Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead

This month The Bad Girls Book Club πŸ™ƒ read Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead. We had previously read Harlem Shuffle which is the precursor to Crook Manifesto. I have also read The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad by the same author. All good books with a similar feel. The downtrodden among the black population and the ways some of them are able to rise above the circumstances that society has placed them in.

The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad

The Nickel Boys are children who have essentially been thrown away and wind up in a Florida reform school where they face unimaginable circumstances. Many don’t survive at the hands of the school administrators. Can optimism triumph in these circumstances is the question asked. The fact that the story is based on an actual reform school in Florida that operated for over 100 years really makes the book even more impactful. This book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

The Underground Railroad follows the life of a slave in Georgia and the circumstances that drive her to escape and utilize the underground railroad in a bid for freedom. All the while she is being pursued by a relentless slave catcher. This is a harrowing look at the fate of slaves in pre-Civil War America and the lengths they went to to achieve their hard won freedom. This book also received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Harlem Shuffle and Crook Manifesto

Harlem Shuffle and Crook Manifesto follow the life of Ray Carney in the Harlem of the 60s and 70s. He describes himself as “only slightly bent when it comes to being crooked…” We are following the life of a good man who finds himself in situations which cause him to utilize a philosophy in which the ends justifies the means. He wants to be a law abiding citizen and provide a good life for his wife and children, but circumstances seem to present themselves in such a way that he has to pull one more job to get over this hurdle… and then the next… and so on. It’s a look once more at a black man striving for a better life in a place that doesn’t seem to want him to succeed.

Although these books address difficult subject matter, they are definitely worth reading. I would start with The Nickel Boys. Next month we are reading Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister. I’ll be back with my thoughts then. I’d love to hear what books you’ve been reading. πŸ’œ


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