Why Join?

  • Add New Books

  • Write a Review

  • Backpack Reading Lists

  • Newsletter Updates

Join Now

Ten Great Books set in Brooklyn

5th January 2021

Brooklyn is the latest destination for our ‘Ten Great Books set in…’ series. Ten Great Books set in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is New York’s most populous borough with over 2.6m inhabitants. It is situated just across the bridge from Manhattan. Brooklyn is a mix of rich and poor – much gentrified in recent years, but still with high levels of poverty

‘It’s brick outside’ – meaning it’s not just cold out, it is freezing. Brooklyn saying.

Ten Great Books set in BrooklynA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.

A Friend is a Gift you Give Yourself by William Boyle

After Brooklyn mob widow Rena Ruggiero hits her eighty-year-old neighbor Enzio in the head with an ashtray when he makes an unwanted move on her, she retreats to the Bronx home of her estranged daughter, Adrienne, and her granddaughter, Lucia, only to be turned away at the door. Their neighbor, Lacey ‘Wolfie’ Wolfstein, a one-time Golden Age porn star and retired Florida Suncoast grifter, takes Rena in and befriends her. When Lucia discovers that Adrienne is planning to hit the road with her ex-boyfriend, she figures Rena is her only way out of a life on the run with a mother she can’t stand. The stage is set for an explosion that will propel Rena, Wolfie, and Lucia down a strange path, each woman running from their demons, no matter what the cost.

Cobble Hill by Cecily von Ziegesar

In the eclectic Brooklyn neighbourhood of Cobble Hill, the lives of four married couples and their children are about to flip from complicated to combustible…

Mandy is so underwhelmed by motherhood that she’s faking a debilitating disease to get the attention of her ex-boyband celebrity husband Stuart. There’s the unconventional new school nurse, Peaches, who Stuart secretly has a crush on, and her disappointing husband Greg, who wears noise-cancelling headphones – everywhere.

A few streets away, Roy, a well-known British novelist, has lost his way with his next novel – and his marriage to Wendy, who knows exactly where she’s going. Around the corner, Tupper struggles to salvage his career and to pin down his elusive artist wife Elizabeth. She remains…elusive.

Throw in two hormonal teenagers, a ten-year-old pyromaniac and a lot of hidden cameras, and Cobble Hill becomes an explosive mix of egos, desires and secrets.

Ten Great Books set in BrooklynOuterborough Blues: A Brooklyn Mystery by Andrew Cotto

Outerborough Blues is the story of a drifter, Caesar Stiles, immersed in a mystery that takes him to the hidden corners of a rapidly changing Brooklyn. The gritty search for a missing art student takes on a mythological sweep, in a gem-like construction, as Stiles has a single week to solve the case while reconciling his own inescapable past. Elegiac and literary, Outerborough Blues: A Brooklyn Mystery pulses with the underbelly of Americana and the universal longing for home.

Brooklyn Heights by Miral al-Tahawy

Brooklyn Heights, the fourth novel by award-winning Egyptian author Miral El-Tahawy, revolves around the character of Hend, an Arabic teacher and would-be writer in her late thirties, who emigrates to the United States from Cairo with her eight year old son after the painful break-up of her marriage.

A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington

This is the story of The Greatest Funambulist Who Ever Lived…

Born into a post-war circus family, our nameless star was unwanted and forgotten, abandoned in the shadows of the big top. Until the bright light of Serendipity Wilson threw her into focus.

Now an adult, haunted by an incident in which a child was lost from the circus, our narrator, a tightrope artiste, weaves together her spellbinding tales of circus legends, earthy magic and folklore, all in the hope of finding the child… But will her story be enough to bring the pair together again?

Beautiful and intoxicating, A Girl Made of Air brings the circus to life in all of its grime and glory; Marina, Manu, Serendipity Wilson, Fausto, Big Gen and Mouse will live long in the hearts of readers. As will this story of loss and reconciliation, of storytelling and truth.

Ten Great Books set in BrooklynAnother Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Running into a long-ago friend sets memory from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant a part of a future that belonged to them.

But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion.

Brooklyn Noir by Tim McLoughlin

An anthlogy of stories under the editorship of Tim McLoughlin.
New York’s punchiest borough asserts its criminal legacy with all new stories from a magnificent set of today’s best writers. Brooklyn Noir moves from Coney Island to Bay Ridge and far deeper, into the heart of Brooklyn’s historical and criminal largesse, with all its dark splendour. Each contributor presents a brand new story set in a distinct neighbourhood. These brilliant and chilling stories see crime striking in communities of Russians, Jamaicans, Puerto Ricans, Italians, Irish and many other ethnicities – in the most diverse urban location on the planet.

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

Kimberley Chang and her mother move from Hong Kong to New York. A new life awaits them – making a new home in a new country. But all they can afford is a verminous, broken-windowed Brooklyn apartment. The only heating is an unreliable oven. They are deep in debt.

And neither one speaks one word of English.

Yet there is hope. Eleven-year-old Kim goes to school. And though cut off by an alien language and culture and forced by poverty to work nights in a sweatshop – she finds the classroom challenges liberating. In books and learning she’ll be saved. But can Kim successfully turn to lost girl from Hong Kong into a happy American woman? And should she?

Jean Kwok’s powerful and moving tale of hardship and triumph, of heartbreak and love, speaks of all that gets lost in translation.

Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr

Last Exit to Brooklyn remains undiminished in its awesome power and magnitude as the novel that first showed us the fierce, primal rage seething in America’s cities. Selby brings out the dope addicts, hoodlums, prostitutes, workers, and thieves brawling in the back alleys of Brooklyn. This explosive best-seller has come to be regarded as a classic of modern American writing.

Enjoy the Brooklyn books we’ve selected for you. Any comments in the box below, please!

Tony for the TripFiction team

Join team TripFiction on Social Media:

Twitter (@TripFiction), Facebook (@TripFiction.Literarywanderlust), YouTube (TripFiction #Literarywanderlust), Instagram (@TripFiction) and Pinterest (@TripFiction)

Subscribe to future blog posts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enter the 2021TripFiction 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition!

A story in which the location plays as important a role as the rest of your words.

2,500 word maximum, 750 word minimum

Judges include Victoria Hislop and Rosanna Ley

First Prize of £1,000 / US$1,350

Prizes total £1,750 / US$2,362 

Winning entry published on TripFiction site and publicised on Social Media

Entries close 6th November 2021