Fleet, $32.99 pb, 318 pp
Readers of Colson Whitehead’s two recent Pulitzer Prize-winning novels, The Underground Railroad (2016) and The Nickel Boys (2019) – both historical literary novels focused on the Underground Railroad and the Jim Crow era, respectively – may be surprised by his eighth book, Harlem Shuffle, a crime novel written in the swaggering voice of a Quentin Tarantino character. Whitehead has always drawn on elements of genre fiction. His début, The Intuitionist (1999), borrows from sci-fi and speculative fiction to tell the story of Lila Mae Watson, America’s first Black female elevator inspector. Zone One (2011), an unexpected marriage of literary and post-apocalyptic zombie fiction, asks now-familiar questions about human perseverance and survival. Humour features strongly in these works, as do Whitehead’s deftness and apparent joy in making philosophical forays into genre fiction. Compared to the sweeping and more sombre nature of his most recent books, Harlem Shuffle is lighter fare.