Brooklynite’s second novel brings to life post-9/11 New York
Brooklyn BookBeat: Author to Speak in Park Slope
Brooklyn author Kristopher Jansma’s award-winning first novel “The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards” was published in 2013 to wide critical acclaim. The New Yorker praised his “wry humor and steady hand … [that] never fail to entertain,” while The Village Voice hailed him as “F. Scott Fitzgerald meets Wes Anderson.” Now, Jansma returns with “Why We Came to the City” (Viking; on sale Feb. 16), a sweeping story bursting with all the wit, heart and poignancy of his debut. The author will appear in Park Slope to speak about his book on Feb. 16 at Community Bookstore (7 p.m., 143 Seventh Ave.).
Set in post-9/11, Great Recession New York, this dazzling new novel centers on a close-knit group of twenty-somethings who find their lives forever altered by a tragedy that threatens to rip them apart.
Five years after college, these friends have all come to call the bustle and grit of New York their home. There is Irene, a visionary artist with a mysterious past; Sara, her ambitious, gregarious best friend, endlessly overworked in her job as an editor; George, Sara’s astronomer boyfriend with an emerging drinking problem; Jacob, a poet manqué and loudmouth who earns his rent working at a psychiatric facility; and William, a shy investment banker who finds his life upended after he falls desperately in love with Irene.
These five richly imagined characters face the same struggles as all young people trying to scrape by in the city: cramped, overpriced apartments, dwindling bank accounts and shockingly bad dates. But when Irene finds a mysterious lump under her eye, which leads to a devastating diagnosis, the group is thrown into unfamiliar territory. Even as they cling together more tightly than ever in the face of Irene’s illness, Sara, George, Jacob and William each must also learn to cope with the lonely and isolating nature of grief.
At its core, “Why We Came to the City” is a story about the profound power of friendship. By turns humorous and heartbreaking, Jansma’s captivating novel will resonate with anyone who has known the unbreakable bond of a true friend.
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Kristopher Jansma is the winner of the 2014 Sherwood Anderson Award for Fiction. His debut novel “The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards” received an Honorable Mention for the 2014 PEN/Hemingway Award and was longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence and the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. He has written for The New York Times, The Believer, Story, The Millions, ZYZZVA, Slice and the Blue Mesa Review. An assistant professor at SUNY New Paltz and a graduate instructor at Sarah Lawrence College, Jansma lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.
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