Q&A: New York, Italicized

Daniel T. Allen  | April 26, 2012 4:00 AM
Author: Maurizio Molinari
Publisher: Laterza
Publication Date: Oct. 2011

Maurizio Molinari is the author of “Gli Italiani di New York,” an Italian-language book that takes a look at the New Yorkers of Italian descent who have helped shape the city we know today. The book will be available in English from New Academia Publishing in Aug. 2012.

Molinari is also the U.S. correspondent for La Stampa, an Italian daily newspaper, and has written over a dozen non-fiction books.


Free Books for Schools and Libraries in Honor of Woman Who Died in 9/11

Georgia Kral  | April 24, 2012 4:00 AM

The Brooke Jackman Foundation hosts a read-a-thon at the Winter Garden Atrium in the World Financial Center in Lower Manhattan every year. Photo by John Munson/MunsonVisuals.com

Twenty schools in the New York metropolitan region will soon be stocked with 100 more books. At a time when budget cuts threaten after school programs and library services, the “Books 4 Our School” challenge aims to make reading more accessible to children.

Which schools will get the books is partly determined by a virtual show of hands.


New York at War

Steven H. Jaffe  | April 10, 2012 4:00 AM
Author: Steven H. Jaffe
Publisher: Basic Books/The Perseus Books Group
Publication Date: April 2012

After the attacks of September 11, historian Steven H. Jaffe, then a curator at the South Street Seaport Museum, began researching his book, “New York at War.” This edited excerpt of the book’s introduction includes his observations of war-related history near Ground Zero.


NYC’s Arab Spring: A Literary Revolution That Took Place 100 Years Ago

Todd Fine  | March 28, 2012 4:00 AM
Author: Ameen Rihani with illustrations by Kahlil Gibran
Publisher: Melville House
Publication Date: April 2012

Several neighborhoods in New York City have sheltered important literary communities and movements: Greenwich Village was the stomping ground of the Beat Writers and the so-called “Lost Generation,” Brooklyn Heights claimed Richard Wright, W.H. Auden, and Truman Capote, and today’s vibrant contemporary literary scene stretches from Brooklyn Heights to Fort Greene.

However, in terms of global impact, the “Little Syria” neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, along the lower part of Washington Street, produced one of the most significant New York literary movements of all.  Concentrated on Washington Street, from Battery Park up through Rector Street, and as high as Chambers Street, Little Syria was famous throughout the Arab world. A sizeable cohort of writers that worked in this neighborhood and formed an organization called the “Pen League” is still widely read in Arabic-speaking countries. They launched an aggressive campaign of innovation in the style and form of Arabic literature, explicitly importing Western and American ideas. The work of one of its participants, Kahlil Gibran’s singular English-language phenomenon The Prophet (1923), thrives as one of the best-selling books in world history, with estimates ranging from eleven to one hundred million copies sold.


At the Strand Bookstore, a Retail Labor Struggle in the Age of Amazon and Occupy

John Farley  | March 16, 2012 4:00 AM

The Strand Bookstore, located at 828 Broadway in the East Village, is widely considered a New York City icon. Recently, employees say the independent book store has developed a corporate-style atmosphere. Photo courtesy of Blog Nueva York.

In an age where online retailers are forcing  even the largest corporate chain book stores to close, The Strand in Union Square is one of a handful of great remaining independent shops left in New York City, beloved by many New Yorkers. And while most retailers of books, as well as other goods, aren’t exactly known for their excellent employee treatment, most of The Strand’s employees have been members of the United Auto Workers Union (the union supports many industries besides auto workers) for 35 years, and labor rights activists long pointed to the store as a model of good retailer policies.

But lately, Strand employees say that the owners are giving them a raw deal and transforming their workplace into the kind of corporate-style environment they think The Strand should stand against. And now, with help from the Occupy movement, some employees are mobilizing to fight back.

In addition to circulating a press release to local universities and labor groups, employees told MetroFocus that if The Strand’s owners won’t move forward with contract negotiations, they intend to escalate the pressure — possibly with a strike.


Edifice Complex: A Crash Course in NYC Architecture

Daniel T. Allen  | March 7, 2012 4:00 AM
Author: Will Jones
Publisher: Rizzoli
Publication Date: Feb. 2012

“How to Read New York,” design and architecture writer Will Jones’ latest book, has nothing to do with the city’s literary tradition and everything to do with its rich architectural history. With illustrative photographs and wire frame drawings that resemble blueprints, his book gives you X-ray vision into the details of some of New York’s most iconic, and most overlooked buildings. (more…)

Teddy Roosevelt’s Battle With the Deeply Depraved New York of Yore

Richard Zacks  | March 5, 2012 4:00 AM

In 1895, then-reformer Theodore Roosevelt — fearless and righteous and full of zeal — was appointed New York City police commissioner, assigned to clean up the Big Apple at what many said was its dirtiest, most rotten moment in history.

Author Richard Zacks’ new book, “Island of Vice,” details Roosevelt’s quest, which, depending on your perspective, was either glorious and quixotic or the premise for a dark comedy. In the following essay for MetroFocus, Zacks paints a vivid portrait of the seedy urban underbelly that Roosevelt encountered at the end of the 19th century. (more…)

Op-Ed: Unorthodox – Rejecting Hasidic Brooklyn & Reinventing Myself One Borough Away

Deborah Feldman  | February 27, 2012 4:00 AM
Author: Deborah Feldman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: February 2012

When my mother chose to leave her arranged marriage and pursue her dreams of higher education, I lost her to the outside world. My family would not let her near me because they feared she would be a bad influence, and my father was severely developmentally delayed, so I was raised by my grandparents, both Holocaust survivors from Hungary who were deeply entrenched in Williamsburg’s Hasidic community.

I always felt out of place in a world that seemed to have no role for women other than mothers and homemakers. In the Satmar Hasidic sect, parents raise their children according to the strictest standard of observance of Jewish laws and customs. My aunts and uncles would berate and yell at their children for seemingly small infractions, and in school, teachers could be equally abusive.


Art Imitates Life in ‘The Darlings’

Cristina Alger  | February 20, 2012 4:00 AM
Author: Cristina Alger
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books/Viking
Publication Date: February 2012

I wrote a lot in high school, less in college. I enjoyed the practice of writing itself, but I could never seem to find a truly compelling character or a plot that held my interest. By the time I became a corporate lawyer, my writing was limited to merger agreements and late-night emails to friends.

That changed on the morning of Sept. 15, 2008. I arrived early to work at my law firm, WilmerHale, and found that my hall was already buzzing with bankruptcy attorneys and litigators. By 9 a.m., a firm-wide meeting had been called in one of the conference rooms. Every single partner was present. The stress level was at an unparalleled high. The associates glanced around the room at one another, silently wondering if we were all about to be fired.



Looking Up to Look Back: The Fading Ads of New York

George Bodarky and Sarah Berson  | February 17, 2012 4:00 AM
Author: Frank Jump
Publisher: The History Press
Publication Date: Nov. 2011

In 1986, when Frank Jump was 26 years old, he was diagnosed as HIV positive. It was a time when doctors still knew little of the disease. They estimated Jump only had a few years left to live.

The doctors were wrong. Nearly 10 years after his diagnosis, things started looking up for Jump — literally.

In 1997, he “discovered” an ad for Omega Oil, a cure-all tonic, painted on the side of a New York City building. It was the beginning of a quest to photograph old ads painted or glued to the sides of city buildings, ads he views as relics of New York’s past. The quest has consumed Jump ever since.


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