Harlem is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America

Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts

Harlem is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America

A walker, a reader and a gazer, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts is also a skilled talker whose impromptu kerbside exchanges with Harlem's most colourful residents are transmuted into a set of observations on what change and opportunity have wrought in this small corner of a big city, Harlem, with its outsize reputation and even-larger influence. 3.6 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
Harlem is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Travel, Society, Politics & Philosophy
Format Paperback
Pages 304
RRP £14.99
Date of Publication August 2011
ISBN 978-1847084576
Publisher Granta Books
 

A walker, a reader and a gazer, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts is also a skilled talker whose impromptu kerbside exchanges with Harlem's most colourful residents are transmuted into a set of observations on what change and opportunity have wrought in this small corner of a big city, Harlem, with its outsize reputation and even-larger influence.

Read an extract from the book | NYTimes.com

Reviews

The Financial Times

Bonnie Greer

It was Saul Bellow who invented the term “noticer” to denote someone who looks and sees, stands back and takes note. In this, her first book, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts marks herself out as a first-rate noticer with the gift of being able to allow us to notice things exactly when she does ... a great introduction to a rich and complex community

06/08/2011

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The Guardian

Sukhdev Sandhu

[The book's] commitment to the tentative, its scepticism towards totalising visions, is evident in every beautifully written page ... Her voice is closer to Walter Benjamin than it is to the rappers, preachers and street-signifying home boys who have defined its aural identity in recent times.

13/08/2011

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The New York Times

Kaiama L Glover

Enchanting … Rhodes-Pitts brings the library into the street, not only looking to history to explain the present, but also and equally relying on contemporary reality to tell Harlem’s past.

11/03/2011

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The Observer

Tracy Smith

Lyrical and subtle … Like Joan Didion, one of her unnamed but palpably felt literary parent-figures, Rhodes-Pitts has perfected the art of listening, removing herself as an obstacle to a number of candid histories — stories that don't exactly add up to newsworthy events, but which serve as markers of the day-to-day happenings from which public history emerges.

14/08/2011

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The Times

Kate Saunders

In an inspiring mix of historiography and psychogeography, just as gentrification begins to eat at the heart and soul of Harlem and erode (or, more likely, burnish to a high, self-reflecting sheen), the myths and meanings of Harlem, she discovers new ways of telling old things in a highly distinctive documentary style.

06/08/2011

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The Literary Review

Daniel Matlin

Rhodes-Pitts avoids the trap of presenting herself as an indigenous tour guide to black America. Too many writers, she observes, have moved too easily from the specificities of their own lives to reductive generalities and definitive assurances that 'Harlem is this or Harlem is that'. Instead, Harlem is Nowhere offers a sensitive, determinedly personal meditation on the neighbourhood's past and present and, above all, its mythology and symbolism.

01/08/2011

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The New York Times

Dwight Garner

It reads as if Ms. Rhodes-Pitts had taken W. E. B. Du Bois’s “Souls of Black Folk” and Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and spliced them together ... At the end you may decide, as I did, that this ambitious racket is somewhat hollow: the book never coheres or locates its own beating heart. But Ms. Rhodes-Pitts’s is a voice you’ll want to hear again, to recapture the scratchy buzz she’s put into your head.

25/01/2011

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