Tag Archives: Tompkins Square riots

In the Immortal Words of Mindy Lahiri: Why Not Me?

Self-pity is not a good marketing tool. Then again, nobody reads my blog anyway (You see what I did there) so…..

city-on-fireIn October of 2015 a novel called City of Fire came out. It got spectacular reviews and the young author was lauded as the next new thing even bigger than any of the Jonathans maybe.

christadoraMore recently Christadora – A Novel was released. It also got spectacular reviews and its young (white male) author is also being celebrated as the greatest thing to happen to literature since Bob Dylan.

Both of these masterpieces are set in the New York’s East Village. City on Fire takes place in the pregentrified 1970s, and culminates in a shooting and the blackout of 1977. It deals with the punks, anarchists, runaways, junkies and other assorted East Village types. Christadora is set a bit later, that period of time when the East Village started to become gentrified and was made safe for suburbanites and the rich, even while a good number of its native population was dying of AIDS. It’s told from multiple points of view, and touches on the Tompkins Square Park riots.

All this I know from reviews of the works. I’ll never read them. I couldn’t bear to. Why you ask? (You don’t come here often, do you?) You see in 2010, to little fanfare, my novel Loisaida – A New York Story was released to the public. Here’s the blurb:

Might be a little harder to find then the other two.
Might be a little harder to find then the other two.

“The core of this gritty, only in New York-story was inspired by realevents – a beautiful, aspiring dancer slain. The psychotic roommate has confessed, but a dilettante actor-turned-journalist thinks there’s more
to it and investigates. Soon one of his sources mentions he might have better luck gaining trust if he’d shoot dope.

Welcome to New York’s East Village, aka Loisaida, circa 1988. Meet your neighbors – artists, dreamers, hustlers, devil worshipers, anarchists, junkies and yuppies – all competing for breathing space in a city without air. It’s the era of greed, when the poor are objects of scorn not sympathy, and the gentrifiers view themselves as urban pioneers. This is a story about sex and drugs and real estate. This is a story about a murder…”

Not only does Loisaida take place in the East Village, like both of those respectable novels, but it takes place in around the same period as Christadora, and like Christadora it is also told by multiple narrators. Christadora involves the tenants of a particular building, the (real life but fictionalized) Christadora, a one time settlement house that was turned into a fancy condominium in the late 1980s. The Christadora (the building, not the novel) is also referenced in Loisaida, though it’s given a fictional name, and a much less prominent role. Both Christadora – A Novel and Loisaida feature the Tompkins Square Park police riots. City on Fire, which is set years before those events, has a shooting. I don’t know whether or not anybody dies in it. Loisaida, as explained in the blurb, has a murder – a strangulation probably, though there wasn’t enough left of the body for an autopsy.

Here are things I am not claiming: I am not claiming that the authors of either of these illustrious works stole from Loisaida. I am not claiming they read it. It would be doubtful, Continue reading In the Immortal Words of Mindy Lahiri: Why Not Me?