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Ten great books set in New York

25th October 2017

Ten great books set in New York

Courtesy: TravelDigg. com

Ten great books set in New York

For the second of our ‘Ten great books set in…..’ series, we have chosen New York. The Big Apple – the city that never sleeps. One of the most dynamic and exciting places on earth. The ideal place for a few days’ iconic sight seeing (and some shopping!). What better at the end of a busy day than to curl up with a book that is firmly set in the city?  It might even help you plan the next day’s itinerary… The ten books below are all very highly rated by members of the TripFiction community.

1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

This is a New York classic about a young girl growing up in Brooklyn, evocative of this area of New York (Williamsburg) and describes the experience of people immigrating into the city.

“A profoundly moving novel, and an honest and true one. It cuts right to the heart of life. . . . If you miss A Tree Grows in Brooklyn you will deny yourself a rich experience.” (New York Times ) 

2. Downtown by Pete Hamill

Manhattan, the keystone of New York City, is a place of ghosts and buried memory. One can still see remnants of the British colony, the mansions of the robber barons, and the speakeasies of the 1920s. These are the places that have captivated the imaginations of writers for centuries. Now Pete Hamill brings his unique knowledge and deep love of the city to a New York chronicle like no other.

3. Everyone is Watching by Megan Bradbury

Everyone is Watching is a novel about the men and women who have defined New York. Through the lives and perspectives of these great creators, artists and thinkers, and through other iconic works of art that capture its essence, New York itself solidifies. Complex, rich, sordid, tantalizing, it is constantly changing and evolving. Both intimate and epic in its sweep, Everyone is Watching is a love letter to New York and its people – past, present and future.

4. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler by E L Konigsburg

Claudia knew that she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away… so she decided not to run FROM somewhere, but TO somewhere. And so, after some careful planning, she and her younger brother, Jamie, escaped– right into a mystery that made headlines! This it the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the youngsters, siblings Claudie and Jamie set up home amongst the old artefacts – if you know the Museum, can you work out which was the fancy bed that they occupied?

5. Outerborough 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.


6. The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

When she arrives at the famed Barbizon Hotel in 1952, Darby McLaughlin is everything her hall mates aren’t: plain, self-conscious, homesick and convinced she doesn’t belong. Yet when she befriends Esme, a Barbizon maid, she’s introduced to an entirely new, colourful yet seedy side of New York City. Over half a century later, journalist Rose Lewin hears rumours of Darby’s involvement in a deadly skirmish with a hotel maid. A perfect distraction from her own imploding personal life, Rose becomes obsessed with finding the truth about what really happened at the hotel.

7. Call it Sleep by Henry Roth

David Schearl arrives in New York in his mother’s arms to begin his new life as an immigrant in the ‘Golden Land’. David is hated by his father – an angry, violent man unable to find his niche in the New World – but is fiercely loved and protected by his Yiddish-speaking mother. An innovative, multi-lingual novel, Call It Sleep subtly interweaves the overwhelming love between a mother and son with the terrors and anxieties David experiences, as he seeks to find his own identity amidst the disarray of early twentieth-century America.

8. Little Deaths by Emma Flint

It’s the summer of 1965, and the streets of Queens, New York shimmer in a heatwave. One July morning, Ruth Malone wakes to find a bedroom window wide open and her two young children missing. After a desperate search, the police make a horrifying discovery. Noting Ruth’s perfectly made-up face and provocative clothing, the empty liquor bottles and love letters that litter her apartment, the detectives leap to convenient conclusions, fuelled by neighbourhood gossip and speculation.

9. Manhattan Transfer by John Dos Passos

Manhattan Transfer is an “expressionistic picture of New York” (New York Times) in the 1920s that reveals the lives of wealthy power brokers and struggling immigrants alike. From Fourteenth Street to the Bowery, Delmonico’s to the underbelly of the city waterfront, Dos Passos chronicles the lives of characters struggling to become a part of modernity before they are destroyed by it.

10. Men Like Air by Tom Connolly

It is April in Manhattan and the destinies of four very different men are about to collide. Nineteen-year-old Finn has just arrived in the city with his irrepressible and volatile girlfriend, Dilly, determined to even the score with his older brother Jack for abandoning him in the UK in the aftermath of their parents’ deaths. Across town, successful gallery owner Leo Emerson is haunted by loneliness, unsettled by the contrast between his life and that of his brother-in-law and oldest friend Isidor, who is enviably contented in his faith and his marriage.

Which titles would you add to the list? Remember there are more than 300 to choose from in the New York listings on TripFiction…! Each will transport you to some excellent fiction set in the city. Or you may have your own favourites you would like to include. Leave your thoughts in the Comments box below.

And to review the first post in this series – Ten great books set in Paris – please click here.

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  1. User: Jessica Norrie

    Posted on: 25/10/2017 at 8:57 am

    Have promised myself I won’t go back to the US while Trump is in the White House – but a girl can always read about it!