Synopses & Reviews
In 1824, the inhabitants of New York City were just returning from the wilds of Greenwich Village after having fled a yellow fever epidemic that threatened to devastate the population of 150,000. The recent economic depression forced many of the city's laborers out of work. It was a time of extreme gullibility, a time when newspapers began to realize that sensation sold, truth or lies, giving way to a rash of hoaxes.
So when two men of supposed high reputation began a rumor that Manhattan was sinking into the harbor because of overdevelopment on its southern tip, everyone listened closely. The men had been sent, they claimed, to save Manhattan from inevitable doom. Their idea: to saw New York in half, drag it out to sea, turn it around and reattach it to the mainland at Kingsbridge. Far fetched? Not at the time when a river was being forged through the mountains to create the Erie Canal. The wonders of engineering made anything possible. And so begins the story of the greatest hoax ever played on the people of New York City.
"Rose writes with a strong pure style that never strains." LA Weekly
"This humorous treatment of a classic, long-forgotten fraud will appeal to popular culture buffs." Booklist
"Joel Rose is one of my favorite writers." Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting
When Uncle John DeVoe and a man only known as Lozier sit down in the old Centre Market to discuss the impending doom threatening New York City, those around can't help but eavesdrop. Overdevelopment of its southern tip has put the island in jeopardy and unless something can be done to stop it, the city will sink into the harbor. DeVoe and Lozier claim to have been sent to avert disaster and tell eager listeners their plan to save the great city. Who were Uncle John DeVoe and the mysterious Lozier? What may have instigated their grand deception and why was it blindly embraced?
Trailing historical documents that lead him in a direction he never could have anticipated, novelist Rose weaves together an evocative and suspenseful tale of skullduggery against an atmospheric recreation of urban street life in the early nineteenth century. With an eye toward the political and cultural climate of the period, New York Sawed in Half also becomes a playful meditation on the nature of the hoax.
In a riveting tale from the annals of Gotham's checkered past, two men of high reputation claim in 1824 that Manhattan is sinking into the harbor because of over-development on its southern tip. At the dawn of the Industrial Age, their proposed solution seemed possible. And so begins the greatest hoax ever played on the people of New York City.
About the Author
is the editor of the Urban Historicals series. He is the author of the novels Kill the Poor
and Kill Kill Faster Faster
. He is the founder of the now legendary literary magazine Between C&D
, and the editor of two literary anthologies. He edited and contributed to several anthologies, among them, The Paradox Press Big Book of Thugs