Simply New York: Writing the City

Thu. Dec 10, 2020 8:00pm - 9:00pm EST
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Isaac Fitzgerald and an all-star team of writers pay homage to the city that has shaped their lives and work.


  • Susan Choi

  • Marlon James

  • Robert Jones, Jr.

  • Min Jin Lee

  • Isaac Fitzgerald

From Washington Irving to today, novelists, poets, playwrights, and essayists have been wrestling with the contradictions, competitions, and contortions of life in New York. The city has framed the work—and lives—of countless writers, at the same time that the writing they've produced has impacted the New York of our imaginations and the actual city itself, in reality. Whether native or transplant, "One belongs to New York instantly," as Tom Wolfe wrote. "One belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years." Isaac Fitzgerald leads a panel of native, transplant, and part-time New Yorkers to discuss the simultaneous and ongoing process of being molded by the city that they continue to shape in their work.

LIVE from NYPL is made possible by the support of Library patrons and friends, as well as by the continuing generosity of Celeste Bartos, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos, and the Margaret and Herman Sokol Public Education Endowment Fund.

 Susan Choi
's first novel, The Foreign Student, won the Asian-American Literary Award for fiction. Her second novel, American Woman, was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into a film. Her third novel, A Person of Interest, was a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award. In 2010 she was named the inaugural recipient of the PEN/W.G. Sebald Award. Her fourth novel, My Education, received a 2014 Lammy Award. Her fifth novel, Trust Exercise, won the 2019 National Book Award, and her first book for children, Camp Tiger, came out in 2019. A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, she teaches fiction writing at Yale and lives in Brooklyn.

 Marlon James was born in Jamaica in 1970. His most recent novel, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, the first novel in James's Dark Star trilogy, was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award. His previous novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, was the winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize, The American Book Award, and The Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize for fiction. He is the author of the novels John Crow's Devil and The Book of Night Women, which won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

 Robert Jones, Jr., was born and raised in New York City. He received his BFA in creative writing with honors and MFA in fiction from Brooklyn College. He has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times, Essence, OkayAfrica, The Feminist, Wire, and The Grio. He is the creator of the social-justice social media community Son of Baldwin. The Prophets, out in January 2021, is his debut novel.

 Min Jin Lee is a recipient of fellowships in Fiction from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard. Her novel Pachinko was a finalist for the National Book Award and New York Times 10 Best Books of 2017. Lee's debut novel Free Food for Millionaires was a Top 10 Books of the Year for The Times of London, NPR's Fresh Air, USA Today, and a finalist for One Book, One New York. Her writings have appeared in The New Yorker, NPR's Selected Shorts, The New York Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian, Chosun Ilbo, The Times of London, and The Wall Street Journal.

 Isaac Fitzgerald has been a firefighter, worked on a boat, and was once given a sword by a king, thereby accomplishing three out of five of his childhood goals. After making a bunch of cool things for the internet, he now writes books and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Susan Choi © Heather Weston

Marlon James © Mark Seliger

Robert Jones Jr. © Alberto Vargas Rainriver

Min Jin Lee © Art Streiber

Isaac Fitzgerald © Alice Sola Kim 

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