“The Theresa Job”
by Colson Whitehead
from the July 26, 2021 issue of The New Yorker

Colson Whitehead, winner of two Pulitzers for his last two books, has his next book coming out in September: Harlem Shuffle. This story is an excerpt from the book. I have really liked Whitehead’s work, and it has continued to grow on me. I think both The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys are important and well done, so I’m definitely on board to read Harlem Shuffle when it comes out. Consequently, I may just hold off on “The Theresa Job” and read it in the context of the complete novel. Then again, I am very curious about what we have coming in September.

Here is how “The Theresa Job” begins:

Carney took the long way to Nightbirds. This first hot spell of the year was a rehearsal for the summer to come. Everyone a bit rusty, but it was coming back—they took their places. On the corner, two white cops re-capped the fire hydrant, cursing. Kids had been running in and out of the spray for days. Threadbare blankets lined fire escapes. The stoops bustled with men in undershirts drinking beer and jiving over the noise from transistor radios, the d.j.s piping up between songs like friends with bad advice. Anything to delay the return to sweltering rooms, the busted sinks and clotted flypaper, the accumulated reminders of your place in the order. Unseen on the rooftops, the denizens of tar beaches pointed to the lights of bridges and planes.

What do you think? Are you reading this now? Are you waiting for the book? Neither?

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