Friday, May 14, 2010

NYC Fiction & GIVEAWAY: Let the Great World Spin

One of my all-time favorite "sub-genres" of fiction is stories that take place in New York City. Part of the reason is that when I was growing up in a small town in Ohio dreaming of writerly fame, New York always represented sort of a paragon of sophistication and success to me. I'd always assumed that I'd be living in NY someday, and I had visions of working on my soon-to-be-published manuscript in Central Park on a sunny Sunday afternoon right before subwaying off to a meeting with my agent. While that hasn't quite yet come to fruition, the allure of the city is still there. As a Chicagoan, that idealization of New York seems almost traitorous, but I can't help it — it's one of my favorite cities in the world to visit, and I so I still love reading NYC novels.

I bring up this up now because forces have converged to make it a great time to plow through several NYC-themed novels in a row. First, I'm participating in a Let the Great World Spin blog tour, and I'm doing a giveaway in conjunction with the tour — please see details below. Last year's National Book Award winner has garnered positive review after positive review, so I'm stoked to dive in.

Secondly, I'm heading to NYC in early June for a much-needed vacation. So, between now and then, I'm also planning to read New York, by Edward Rutherfurd and Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem.

Here is a Top 11 list of some NYC novels I've enjoyed, in order of how much I enjoyed them. It's by no means an exhaustive list, and I encourage you to read the rules of the giveaway below and add your favorites!

1. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon
2. Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer
3. Falling Man, by Don DeLillo
4. Netherland, by Joseph O'Neill
5. The Believers, by Zoe Heller
6. A Fortunate Age, by Joanna Smith Rakoff
7. The Emperor's Children, by Claire Messud
8. The Brooklyn Follies, by Paul Auster
9. The Unnamed, by Joshua Ferris
10. All the Sad Young Literary Men, by Keith Gessen
11. Free Food for Millionaires, by Min Jin Lee

Now you:  

I'll post my review of Let the Great World Spin on May 25th, but in the meantime, I'm giving away a copy of the book. To enter to win, please comment below and tell me which criteria you meet, and don't forget to leave an email address so I can contact you. You'll receive entries based on the following criteria:

+1 New Follower
+2 Existing Follower
+2 What's your favorite NYC novel?  

I'll announce the winner on May 25th. Thanks to Lisa and TLC Book Tours for sponsoring this giveaway and organizing the tour. For other reviews on the Let the Great World Spin tour, please click here for the schedule.


  1. I'm an existing follower. Please count me in.

    teresasreadingcorner at gmail dot com

  2. I am a follower, as well.

    Bill ;-)

    billsmith2003 (at) gmail (dot) com

    Hope you'll check out my book giveaway:

  3. I'm a new follower.

    sharifazaw @ gmail . com

    (My favorite New York novel is the Age of Innocence)

  4. I am a new follower. I liked The Unnamed. i am originally from NYC.

    felinmanor@aol dot com

  5. Ooh, I've been wanting to read this one since I heard an interview with the author on NPR.

    I'm an existing follower. My favorite NYC novel is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

    wave.of.atla at gmail dot com

  6. I am an existing follower.

    You know from my recent review that I also enjoyed The Unnamed. I also recently read Very Valentine and enjoyed that too!

    joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

  7. No need to enter me. I just needed to comment on the fact that I think you're somehow stalking me. I just finished Let the Great World Spin and am mid-review writing now. I'm almost nearly done reading Motherless Brooklyn. Get out of my head, yo.

    You need to also add Forever by Pete Hamill to your list. One of my favs and I'm also really in love with NY novels too. Seriously, this is creeping me out a bit.

  8. I'm an old follower. Honestly, I can't think of anything I've read set only in NYC. Invisible Man spends alot of time there. hmm.. Would love to win this! chellebcool(at)hotmail(dot)com

  9. I'm an existing follower. Does The Great Gatsby count? :) And I just have to ask how #11 made it onto your list of favorites if you hated it!!

  10. I am an existing follower. I am originally from NJ and this books sounds fantastic. To be honest I haven't read any NYC books, but I'm going to be checking out your list.

    Thanks for the chance.

  11. Hi Greg, let's see if I can get lucky twice. I'm an existing follower. I would love to read Let the Great World Spin and I'm currently out of book money (sigh). Here's my NYC book pick: Siri Hustvedt's The Blindfold; it is a mysterious and disturbing novel about a young woman who comes from the Midwest to attend Columbia and gets into a really strange and disturbing relationship. I read this novel years ago and never forgot it.

  12. I'm an existing follower and would love a copy of this book; as I love reading about New York (even though I've never been there).

    My favourite book about the place is 'Time and Again' by Jack Finney. I've read it 3 times already and just can't get enough of it. I've also listened to the tapes of the second book, but didn't like it so much (I think it was the voice of the reader that put me off).


  13. I'm an existing follower, and my favorite is for sure A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

  14. I am an existing follower. I honestly must have missed out on the New York thing. Maybe I will have to try one of your suggestions.

    lkdees (at)

  15. I am an existing follower.

    I would say my favorite NY book would be a toss up between The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon and Call It Sleep by Henry Roth.

    nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

  16. No need to enter me, I already have this book (not yet read). Found your blog via Aarti at Book Lust's Reverent Hands post.

    I'd have to say my favorite book set in NYC would have to be "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith.

  17. I am a new follower. I read and loved From Time to Time. I just finished Summer at Tiffany. Although it was not fiction it was a lovely story of two girls summer in New York City right as WWII ended.

    I really want to read Let the Great World Spin. I first learned of Philippe Petit's famous walk by reading a picture book called The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. I was excited to see a fiction book too.

    Thanks for the chance to win this.
    kathy at dassaro dot net

  18. Hi,existing follower here and yes,please enter me in the contest. One of my favorite NYC novels is Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin,a beautifully overwrought fantasy version of Old New York complete with a magic white horse and two star crossed lovers.

  19. I read The Unnamed recently and loved that. And I know you didn't much like A Gate at the Stairs, but I did. ;p Am very much aware of its flaws, but I fell in love with Tassie.

    Existing follower. :)

  20. I love books that take place in NYC too!

    please enter me: jennala(at)cfl(dot)rr(dot)com

    +2 existing follower
    +2 hmm, my favorite would be Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger. I'm sure there's another that I like better but my mind is blanking on it!

  21. As a NY-er, I also have a soft spot for this "sub genre"! Thanks for your top ten list- I have read some but others are new to me and will go on my TBR. My favorite NY novel is "Forever" by Pete Hamill.

    I am a new follower and my address is leenbeen2001 (At) yahoo (dot) com

  22. I'd like to enter the contest.
    I am a new follower.
    I loved The Great Gatsby and The Catcher In The Rye which were both set in New York I think.

  23. I read Let the Great World Spin this weekend and loved it! You might try another book by Colum McCann, This Side of Brightness, which is also set in New York.

  24. I am a new follower of your blog and well sadly I haven't read any NYC books yet but yes, 'The Unnamed' is on my TBR list... :) I have also heard great reviews about 'Let the Great World Spin' and would love to read it....


  25. Please enter me in this giveaway!

    +1 New Follower

    +2 My favorite NYC novel is The Alienist by Caleb Carr.

    familyhistree at yahoo dot com

    Sarah E

  26. I like your list. You've inspired me to ponder a NYC list of my own. I think Motherless Brooklyn would be on it, because I loved that book.

    Emperor's Children didn't do it for me. I thought it was a rip off of Iris Murdock's A Fairly Honourable Defeat. Not homage; rip off.

    Thanks also for the reminder to read Kavalier & Clay. It's been on my TBR shelf for too long.