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Jonathan Lethem

Thursday, October 12, 2023

4:30 p.m. — Craft Talk
7:30 p.m. — Reading/Q&A
Both events in the Multi-Purpose Room, Campus Center West Addition

University at Albany

1400 Washington Avenue, Albany NY 12222  See map.

Jonathan Lethem is the bestselling author of twelve novels, including The ArrestThe Feral DetectiveThe Fortress of Solitude, and Motherless Brooklyn, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.


His newest book is Brooklyn Crime Novel (October 2023), a sweeping story of community, crime, and gentrification, tracing more than fifty years of life in one Brooklyn neighborhood, and its Black, brown and white inhabitants. Novelist Namwali Serpell called it, “A deeply moving, fiercely intelligent, and acerbically funny novel about the scandal and disaster of American capital in our time.”


Winner of a 2005 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, Lethem has been proclaimed “one of America’s greatest storytellers” (Washington Post).

Cosponsored by the English Department’s Creative Writing Program and Young Writers Project.

Jonathan Lethem, Brooklyn Crime Novel book cover
Reviews of Brooklyn Crime Novel

“The levels of mystery here astound. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts and then the parts decide to act alone and challenge the whole. Lethem is not only interrogating the form of the crime novel, but the venture of storytelling itself. All of this while remaining a joy to read. Full of strange characters and expertly rendered place. This brilliant, genre-defying work will certainly leave a mark.”
— Percival Everett, author of The Trees

"If Dean Street could talk, Brooklyn Crime Novel would be its voice, and it would serve up a half-century of Brooklyn’s dirt—fractured multicultural dreams, waves of gentrification, 'black mayonnaise'—while confessing its many crimes, from shoplifted magazines to blockbusting to murder. An intricate, spellbinding tour of the soul of Brooklyn as it casts off Manhattan’s shadow." — James Hannaham, author of Delicious Foods

“A blistering book. A love story. Social commentary. History. Protest novel. And mystery joins the whole together: is the crime 'time'? Or the almighty dollar? I got a great laugh from it too. Every city deserves a book like this.” — Colum McCann, author of Apeirogon and Let the Great World Spin

Brooklyn Crime Novel isn't what it says it is. In fact, it takes apart the three words of its title, even as it takes each of them very seriously. It loosens the knot that is Brooklyn, city of tangled streets, lost oases, and false fronts. It interrogates what a Crime is—a dance? an exchange? a deal gone wrong? a funny mugging? And it opens up what a Novel can be. This is no soul-affirming flight; no apotheosis of "where I'm from"; no prettified, gentrified tale of trauma; nor is it a winky metafictional gambit; nor a self-important autofictional one. Brooklyn Crime Novel is an inquiry and a tragedy, and as with the oldest crime story ever written, Oedipus Rex, the judge, detective, victim, and accused are one and the same. A deeply moving, fiercely intelligent, and acerbically funny novel about the scandal and disaster of American capital in our time.” — Namwali Serpell, author of The Furrows and The Old Drift

“The latest novel from the bard of Brooklyn is a metafictional collage that tells the story of some fifty years in one neighborhood . . . . It’s funny and wise and weird . . . . [a] love letter to Brooklyn.” — LitHub

“Brooklyn Crime Novel is like a sidewalk studded with diamonds--individual moments in life documented as vividly as that, the reader walking along with the characters through a borough, through buildings and streets and bedrooms, through lifetimes in an American place. Jonathan Lethem has layered a universe here, in a devastatingly meticulous document, a tender yet unsentimental remembrance for an entire world.” — Susan Straight, author of Mecca and In the Country of Women

More about Jonathan Lethem 

Celebrated for his novels, short stories and essays, Jonathan Lethem is recognized today as one of America’s foremost contemporary writers. 

Born in New York, he attended Bennington College.

He is the author of nine novels, five short-story collections, six non-fiction books and an array of essays published in such publications  as the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, McSweeney's and many other periodicals.

His novel Motherless Brooklyn was named Novel of the Year by Esquire magazine and won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Salon Book Award, as well as the Macallan Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2005. 


He lives in Brooklyn.

(Photo credit Ian Byers-Gamber)

Jonathan Lethem, credit Ian Byers-Gamber
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