Kevin Baker, author of the graphic novel LUNA PARK picks his favorite books about New York.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Not only the great New York novel, the great American novel. Maybe the great Western novel of the 20th century.
World’s Fair by E.L. Doctorow. Close to a memoir, and the very best by the master of historical fiction.
The Power Broker by Robert Caro. The greatest book about politics and power ever written.
The Gangs of New York by Herbert Asbury. The root of all our barbaric cosmogonies, as Borges put it.
Low Life by Luc Sante. Asbury revisited, only this time by a brilliant writer.
Here is New York by E.B. White. Not really a book, despite being published as such these days, but the most perceptive, most nuanced depiction of the city ever to appear.
Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell. The collected writings of The New Yorker’s virtuoso. The apogee of the great days of journalistic writing about New York.
Gotham by Ed Burrows and Mike Wallace. The great history, up to 1898.
Fiorello H. La Guardia by Thomas Kessner. The city seen through one of its most animating spirits.
How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis. For all its virtues, it would be a favorite for the one picture alone, of the sweatshop girl smiling around her scissors.