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Jonathan Lethem:
Motherless Brooklyn
Jonathan Lethem
  Motherless Brooklyn  
Jonathan Lethem    
reading

story

an excerpt

past feature

past feature



  Lionel Essrog, former denizen of St. Vincent's Home for Boys in Brooklyn and Tourette's syndrome-afflicted detective, is a Minna Man. He, along with three fellow orphans, runs mysterious errands for wiseguy Frank Minna and his detective-agency-slash-car service. When a stakeout goes wrong and Frank gets knifed, Lionel goes looking for the killer. The plot takes wild twists and turns, marked by indelible characters and acrobatic wordplay. Essrog, with his lovable tics and compulsions, embarks on a journey that is as much an existential search as it is a manhunt. In Jonathan Lethem's deft hands, even Brooklyn itself becomes one of the main characters in this deliriously funny novel.

Lethem is a literary risk-taker, in full command of his conflated and inventive art. Motherless Brooklyn turns the detective story on its head; it's an audacious homage to the hard-boiled crime novels of the '30s and '40s by way of Jorge Luis Borges, but like Lethem's past work, it defies easy categorization. It is both his most accessible and strongest work to date.

In this issue of Bold Type you'll find an excerpt adapted from Motherless Brooklyn, an exclusive author reading and a short story from Jonathan Lethem that recalls the crackling dialogue of his novel.

 
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  Photo of Jonathan Lethem copyright © Mara Faye Lethem

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