This is the story of two boys, Dylan Ebdus and Mingus Rude. They are friends and neighbors, but because Dylan is white and Mingus is black, their friendship is not simple. This is the story of their Brooklyn neighborhood, which is almost exclusively black despite the first whispers of something that will become known as "gentrification."
This is the story of 1970s America, a time when the most simple human decisionswhat music you listen to, whether to speak to the kid in the seat next to you, whether to give up your lunch moneyare laden with potential political, social and racial disaster. This is the story of 1990s America, when no one cared anymore.
This is the story of punk, that easy white rebellion, and crack, that monstrous plague. This is the story of the loneliness of the avant-garde artist and the exuberance of the graffiti artist.
This is the story of what would happen if two teenaged boys obsessed with comic book heroes actually had superpowers: They would screw up their lives.
This is the story of joyous afternoons of stickball and dreaded years of schoolyard extortion. This is the story of belonging to a society that doesn't accept you. This is the story of prison and of college, of Brooklyn and Berkeley, of soul and rap, of murder and redemption.
This is the story Jonathan Lethem was born to tell. This is The Fortress of Solitude.
The New York Times - A O Scott The Fortress of Solitude is crowded beyond my powers of summary with lessons, insights, facts, dates, song titles and minor characters.
Amazing...Lethem grabs and captures 1970s New York City...in a glorious, chaotic, raw novel.
O, The Oprah Magazine
A marvelous achievement, An important as well as dazzling book.
The Chicago Tribune
A stylish meditation. It may be the strongest attempt in fiction to deal with the racial divides and the reality of city life since The Bonfire of the Vanities.
The New York Observer
Heartbreaking, hilarious, astonishing-the entire arsenal of easy exclamations, only this time all true.
Library Journal - Nathan Ward
This flawed but daring work is recommended for all general collections.
... the story, weighed down, ceases to soar. Still, though, terrifically entertaining a fine, rich, thoughtful novel from one of our best writers. Play that funky music, white boy.
Scary and funny and seriously surreal, the novel hurtles on a trajectory that feels inevitable.
Booklist - Keir Graff
Lethem explores many avenues the origins of gentrification, the development of soul music, the genealogy of graffiti, the seeds of the crack epidemic. The different concepts converge in the closing pages, but this often-excellent novel labors under the weight of its ambition.
Michael Chabon, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and Wonder Boys
Lethem has done a number of things here, any one of which is impossible for any but the very finest novelists. He has vividly and lovingly and truthfully, through thrilling evocation of its music, its popular culture, its street games, argot, pharmacology, social mores and racial politics, recreated a world, a moment in history that I would have thought lost and irrecoverable. He has created, in young Dylan, a genuine literary hero. He has reinvented and reinvigorated the myths of the superhero, of black-white relations, of New York City itself. But most of all, from my point of view, he captures precisely-as only a great novelist can-how it feels to love the world that is, on a daily basis, kicking your ass.
Paula Fox, author of Desperate Characters and Borrowed Finery The Fortress of Solitude is luminous, stinging with truth and life. A story of two boys, a Brooklyn story, an American story that gives in its very specificity the force of the universal.
Richard Russo The Fortress of Solitude is a grim, brave, soaring American masterpiece.
Elizabeth Strout, author of Amy and Isabelle
Wondrous and sweeping, this story evokes perfectly the nuances of friendship and the often odd arrangement called family. The drum of loss beats poignantly beneath the surface, as this tale moves from the streets of Brooklyn to the West Coast and back, presenting us the with baffling and tender gift of acceptance.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Dan Salmon
Something about the raw honesty of this book, its willingness to explore the flaws and strengths of ALL of it's key characters, it's ability to explain these character flaws, biographically, without necessarily excusing them, or even judging them... Read More
To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret, and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.
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