The Colossus of New York: A City in Thirteen Parts

Front Cover
Anchor Books, 2004 - Literary Collections - 158 pages
86 Reviews
In a dazzlingly original work of nonfiction, the award-winning novelist Colson Whitehead re-creates the exuberance, the chaos, the promise, and the heartbreak of New York. Here is a literary love song that will entrance anyone who has lived in—or spent time—in the greatest of American cities.

A masterful evocation of the city that never sleeps, The Colossus of New York captures the city’s inner and outer landscapes in a series of vignettes, meditations, and personal memories. Colson Whitehead conveys with almost uncanny immediacy the feelings and thoughts of longtime residents and of newcomers who dream of making it their home; of those who have conquered its challenges; and of those who struggle against its cruelties.

Whitehead’s style is as multilayered and multifarious as New York itself: Switching from third person, to first person, to second person, he weaves individual voices into a jazzy musical composition that perfectly reflects the way we experience the city. There is a funny, knowing riff on what it feels like to arrive in New York for the first time; a lyrical meditation on how the city is transformed by an unexpected rain shower; and a wry look at the ferocious battle that is commuting. The plaintive notes of the lonely and dispossessed resound in one passage, while another captures those magical moments when the city seems to be talking directly to you, inviting you to become one with its rhythms.

The Colossus of New York is a remarkable portrait of life in the big city. Ambitious in scope, gemlike in its details, it is at once an unparalleled tribute to New York and the ideal introduction to one of the most exciting writers working today.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Wonderful poetic essay writing! - Goodreads
Gorgeous prose poems about New York. - Goodreads
Some very good writing -- just not my thing. - Goodreads
amazingly beautiful writing. - Goodreads
One-page prose poems maybe. - Goodreads
His writing is astounding. - Goodreads

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - c.archer - LibraryThing

This is an amazing, literal interpretation of the scenes of NYC. The sections are like poetry thanks to the author's beautiful weaving of words. He tells the story of places and scenes in New York ... Read full review

Review: The Colossus of New York

User Review  - Leigh Rogers - Goodreads

I really wanted to like this book. I love New York and I've always wanted to live there. I recognize that he is a brilliant writer and I can't wait to read The Intuitionist, but this just wasn't my ... Read full review

About the author (2004)

Colson Whitehead was born and raised in New York City. He is the author of The Intuitionist and John Henry Days and is a recipient of a Whiting Award and a MacArthur Fellowship. He lives in Brooklyn.

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