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Haarlemby Heather Neff
Synopses & Reviews
Abel Crofton is searching for salvation. His father, an abusive jazz musician, has just passed away from cirrhosis of the liver, and Abel yearns to find the Dutch mother he never knew. Believing she still lives in the Netherlands, he leaves his home in Harlem for the town just south of Amsterdam from which the famed Black American neighborhood takes its name: Haarlem.
Plagued by loneliness and desperate longings for a drink—reminders of his continuing struggle even after a dozen years of sobriety—Abel meets Sophie, a waitress in a cafe near his hotel. Of Dutch-Caribbean descent, Sophie and her sister, Saskia, face struggles of their own, but she agrees to help Abel find his mother. With Sophie by his side, he enters a dangerous underworld where he discovers startling secrets about his family life and his father’s past that threaten to destroy whatever hope he has left.
A tightly paced page-turner filled with searing language and archetypal biblical reflections, Heather Neff’s Haarlem is another great leap forward in a writing career that holds unlimited promise.
“The only thing thatll last forever is my Thirst . . . .”
So says Abel Crofton as he explores the streets and canals of Amsterdam. A New York tunnel worker whos struggling to stay sober after years of alcoholism, Abel is searching for the mother hes never known. Despite having few clues as to her whereabouts, he soon finds a bureaucratic trail that takes him to Haarlem, the Dutch town from which the famed African-American neighborhood takes its name.
As Abel ventures into more new territory, he also takes on his identity as a Black man, his rough childhood in Harlem, New York, his relationship to his bitter father, and his battle with addiction. The questions around his life only get more complicated after he meets a coldly direct waitress and a ragged jazz musician, both also bearing major scars from their pasts. The road leads to Haarlem for them as well.
Welcome to Abels search for salvation in another tight page turner from Heather Neff.
About the Author
HEATHER NEFF is a professor of literature of the African diaspora and the author of the novels Blackgammon, Wisdom, and Accident of Birth (Harlem Moon).
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