Gone Missing in Harlem by Karla FC Holloway
“This works both as a page-turner and a portrait of a vanished era.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Karla Holloway’s sophomore novel defies genre: It’s equal parts transportative historical fiction, unputdownable mystery, and damning examination of anti-Blackness in the US.”
—Arianna Rebolini, BuzzFeed News
“Displacement is the theme here, ripping the fabric of the Mosby family from the very first. The influenza pandemic takes one of their family members, and there is no real chance for healing with the onset of the Great Depression, an unwanted pregnancy and the casual cruelty of racism (it speaks to the depth of Holloway’s skill that the most bone-chilling scenes are rooted in the most mundane interactions).”
—Sarah Weinman, The New York Times
In her highly anticipated second novel, Karla Holloway evokes the resilience of a family whose journey traces the river of America’s early twentieth century. The Mosby family migrates from the loblolly-scented Carolinas north to the Harlem of their aspirations—with its promise of freedom and opportunities, sunlit boulevards, and elegant societies.
The family arrives as Harlem staggers under the flu pandemic that follows the First World War. DeLilah Mosby and her daughter, Selma, meet difficulties with backbone and resolve to make a home for themselves in the city, and Selma has a baby, Chloe. As the Great Depression creeps across the world at the close of the twenties, however, the farsighted see hard times coming.
The panic of the early thirties is embodied in the kidnapping and murder of the infant son of the nation’s dashing young aviator, Charles Lindbergh. A transfixed public follows the manhunt in the press and on the radio. Then Chloe goes missing—but her disappearance does not draw the same attention. Wry and perceptive Weldon Haynie Thomas, the city’s first “colored” policeman, takes the case.
The urgent investigation tests Thomas’s abilities to draw out the secrets Harlem harbors, untangling the color-coded connections and relationships that keep company with greed, ghosts, and grief. With nuanced characters, lush historical detail, and a lyrical voice, Gone Missing in Harlem affirms the restoring powers of home and family
Karla FC Holloway is James B. Duke Professor Emerita at Duke University. Her first novel, A Death in Harlem, was published in 2019, on her 70th birthday. She now nurtures her career as a novelist and is already at work on the third novel of the "in Harlem" series.