A Rage in Harlem (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 5 May 2011
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Outrageous, shocking, wonderful (New York Times Book Review)
Himes wrote spectacularly successful entertainments, filled with gems of descriptive writing, plots that barely sidestep chaos, characters surreal, grotesque, comic, hip, Harlem recollected as a place that can make you laugh, cry, shudder. (John Edgar Wideman)
Chester Himes is one of the towering figures of the black literary tradition. His command of nuances of character and dynamics of plot is preeminent among writers of crime fiction. He is a master craftsman. (Henry Louis Gates, Jr.)
A fantasia with a hard brilliant core (Evening Standard)
A fine crime writer of Chandlerian subtlety though in a vein of sheer toughness very much his own (The Times)
Chester Himes is the great lost crime writer, as well a great American dissident novelist per se, and an essential witness to his times. Every one of his beyond-cool Harlem novels is cherished by every reader who finds it. (Jonathan Lethem)
Hieronymus Bosch meets Miles Davis (The New York Times)
He belongs with those great demented realists ... whose writing pitilessly exposes the ridiculousness of the human condition (Will Self)
That he could channel this pain and misery into some of the greatest crime novels ever written is a testament to his skill as a writer and his spirit as a man. If this is the first Chester Himes novel you will read then, believe me, you are in for a treat. (Noel "Razor" Smith)
From the Inside Flap
For the love of fine and wily Imabelle, hapless Jackson loses his life savings to a con man who knows the secret of turning ten-dollar bills into hundreds and steals from his boss, only to lose the stolen money at a crap table. Luckily for him, Jackson has a savvy twin brother, Goldy, who, disguised as a Sister of Mercy, earns a living by selling tickets to Heaven in Harlem. Now for the big payback... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Himes does have a gift for creating sympathetic anti-heros; Jackson is just a normal guy, albeit a bit of a screw-up, whose charming naivety and misguided affections lead him into a series of mishaps, near-misses, chases, shoot-outs, punch-ups, and absurdist scenes to create a one of a kind adventure. Along the way we meet everyone's favourite buddy cop due Coffin Ed and Grave Digger whose shoot first, lob a grenade, smoke a cigarette, then ask questions attitude inspired many a movie detective in the decades to come. There are hard boiled characters, shocking carnage, and plenty of moments of darkness, but thanks to Himes's style and his wonderful creation in Jackson, the whole sorry affair feels quite 'light'.Read more ›
Coffin Ed and Gravedigger Jones are relatively minor characters here. The focus of the book, rather, is the patsy Jackson, who finds his life spiralling out of control when a scam artist convinces him he has the secret of "raising" ten dollar bills into hundred dollar bills. Each choice Johnson makes throws him further into a maelstrom of trouble and the final, violent confrontations are intensely gripping, exciting and emotionally affecting.
Sometimes, when people call a book a classic, the term is bandied about loosely and innapropriately. But a rage in Harlem is a true classic: a reflection of the age of its conception and not only that but a darn fine, intensely exciting crime thriller which no doubt influenced many crime writers to follow.
Jackson is an innocent surrounded by people on the make. One of those is his brother Goldy, who dresses up as Sister Gabriel, a Sister of Mercy, and relieves shoppers entering Blumstein's store of as much change as he can. In return he is liberal with quotations from the Book of Revelation, some of them made up by himself. (He suspects the author was high on drugs when he wrote it, symptoms he can recognise from his own experience.) Goldy also has a sideline in tickets for a dollar a time - ADMIT ONE, SISTER GABRIEL. Since he doesn't say in so many words that the admission is to heaven he isn't technically committing an offence.
As Jackson's troubles multiply he turns to two people for help. One is the Reverend Gaines, with whom he prays. The other is his brother, who quickly realises that Jackson is being played for a sucker by all concerned, including Imabelle, the love of his life. Goldy also figures out that the con men are working on a second, bigger con involving the finding of a lost gold mine. Imabelle is involved in this one too.
The plot moves rapidly, and has elements of farce about it, though the comedy is hard-edged. The story is intricately plotted, but very successfully.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Having got a bit fed up with some of the modern crime novels and their lonely, broken up, alcoholic, protagonists going home night after night to an empty pad and opening a bottle... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Colin Gooden
I love hard boiled thrillers - think Chandler, Hammett et al. Chester Himes is often overlooked but he shouldn't be because his thrillers are as hard boiled as they come. Read morePublished on 11 Nov. 2013 by Books Rule!
Fantastic book. This is the first of the series which features Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson, two of Harlem's finest detectives. Read morePublished on 29 April 2013 by diana
This is the real deal-a hard edged pulp masterpiece that out-Tarantinos Tarantino. There is no dilettante visitation of the black urban experience here. Read morePublished on 25 April 2013 by Withnail67
The first thing that jumps out about this book is the language. It may have been written in the 1950s but the dialogue wouldn't sound out of place in a Tarantino film, and it's... Read morePublished on 23 Jan. 2013 by J. Dawson
From the cover, I was hoping that I had come across a long-ignored crime classic, but this is fairly unimpressive stuff. The writing lacks the style or bite of Chandler or Hammitt. Read morePublished on 21 Jun. 2012 by Ben
Chester Himes is one of a tranche of authors to have recently been inducted into the Penguin Modern Classics range, and A Rage in Harlem is the first to feature his Harlem... Read morePublished on 11 April 2012 by B. Wright
In "A Rage in Harlem" the reader is immersed in a 1950's town full of vivid characters, of depth, culture, atmosphere and ever present danger. Read morePublished on 12 Mar. 2012 by Adrenalin Streams
Before reading the novel "A rage in Harlem" I was unfamilar with the works of Chester Himes. I was immediately drawn into the novel. Read morePublished on 19 Jan. 2012 by D. Evans