The Cool World

Finalist, National Book Awards 1960 for Fiction

The Cool World book cover

Little, Brown
Warren Miller author photo
Warren Miller

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The Cool World is the most famous of Warren Miller's work (all of which is relatively unknown) about a youth gang called the "Crocadiles" in 1950's Harlem, New York City. Narrated in the first person by the protagonist and Crocadile member Duke, The Cool World recounts the story of Duke and his gang's adventures and travails as they deal with street life in the ghetto and a rival gang called the Wolves. Drug dealing, fights, prostitution, guns, and gambling are rampant throughout this engaging, slim novel that rarely has a dull moment. Written entirely in African-American street vernacular of the time, Miller—a caucasian academic—accomplished a great, and mostly unnoticed, linguistic and narrative feat with this novel.