Abel Crofton yearns for salvation. A New York tunnel worker who is struggling to stay sober after years of alcoholism, Abel begins to search for the mother he’s never known, traveling from the Harlem of his New York days to the Dutch town of Haarlem, from which the famed African American neighborhood takes its name. In HAARLEM (Harlem Moon/Broadway Books; July 2005, acclaimed novelist Heather Neff turns her formidable talent to a gritty and allegorical tale where urban fiction goes international to create a textured, thriller-like novel illustrating one man’s struggle against his own inner demons.
Plagued by loneliness and his desperate Thirst, Abel encounters Sophie, a waitress in a café near his hotel in Haarlem. Of Dutch-Caribbean descent, Sophie and her sister, Saskia, face burdens of their own, but Sophie agrees to help Abel find his mother. With Sophie by his side, Abel enters a dangerous underworld where he discovers startling secrets about his family and his father’s past that threaten to destroy whatever hope he has left. As Abel ventures further toward the truth he must confront his troubled childhood, his relationship with his father and his responsibility to others. Most importantly, Abel must face his own battle with addiction in order to reconcile himself with his past and become the man he hopes to be
A tightly paced page-turner filled with searing language and archetypal biblical reflections, Heather Neff’s HAARLEM is blazing leap forward from a “writer with depth, a sense of place, and a profound understanding of the human mind,” [Black Issues Book Review].