A vivid, funny, exuberantly textured debut novel about a tight-knit, ethnically diverse New York neighbourhood on the brink of change, from the bestselling author of COD, SALT and 1968.
Mark Kurlansky is the bestselling author of Cod- A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World (winner of the Glenfidish Best Food Book Award), The Basque History of the World, Salt- A World History, 1968- The Year that Rocked the World and a short story collection The White Man in the Tree (all published by Cape and Vintage). He lives in New York City with his wife and daughter.
After spending many years as a journalist covering international affairs, Kurlansky (Salt: A World History) has made a sharp change of direction. He has not only written a novel, but he has also anchored it around a character so provincial he rarely leaves his East Village neighborhood and has never lived in a building separate from his parents. While the book convincingly conveys Nathan Seltzer's thought process as he experiences a midlife crisis, the novel is perhaps more interesting as a social and cultural commentary on gentrification in lower Manhattan in the 1980s and how longtime residents dealt with swift upheaval. Furthermore, Kurlansky's sophisticated commentary charms the reader to empathize with the characters while still smiling at their ethnic quirks and prejudices. Kurlansky depicts the plight of these residents in a serious fashion but also stresses their experiences as immigrants and how their quirks help them persevere when confronted with change. Someone with an indifferent attitude toward ethnic cuisine and its history may be turned off by the generous use of food imagery, but this still shouldn't take away from the story's fun. Recommended for most collections but especially in the New York metropolitan area. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/04.]-Kevin Greczek, Ewing, NJ Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"A marvellous debut by any standards... Beautifully done" * Sunday
"Witty, hard-edged and mouth-watering. A tightly crafted, vibrant book filled with the romance and hardships of family life, violence, music and butter" * I-D *
"Rich and compelling. Warm social comedy, period detail and perceptive psychology... Kurlansky writes from the heart and taste-buds" * Literary Review *
"Whimsical. Kurlansky's powers of description and humour are abundantly engaging... [An] impassioned, nostalgic, charmingly written novel" * Daily Telegraph *
"Exuberant...hilarious. Recipes for some of the mouth-watering dishes mentioned in the book provide a satisfactorily eccentric coda to an original New York novel" * Good Book Guide *