Synopses & Reviews
The acclaimed author of the intensely powerful novel Pretty Birds
, Scott Simon now gives us a story that is both laugh-out-loud funny and heart-piercing as sprawling and brawling as Chicago, where politics is a contact sport.
The mayor of Chicago is found in his office late at night, sitting in his boxer shorts, facedown dead in a pizza. The mayor was a hero and a rascal: dynamic, charming, ingenious, corruptible, and a masterly manipulator. The city mourns. But it's discovered that the mayor was murdered shortly after he may have begun to squeal on some of his colleagues at City Hall. Over the next four days, police race to find the mayor's killer, while the politicians who bemoan his passing scramble for his throne.
At the center is Sundaran "Sunny" Roopini, forty-eight, alderman of the Forty-eighth Ward, and vice-mayor. Sunny is an Indian immigrant, a restaurant owner, and a recent widower. He is getting tired of politics and wants to hold on just long enough to do the best for his two restive teenage daughters. But as acting interim mayor for a few days, Sunny must deal with forty-nine other aldermen who have their own clashing ambitions.
How will Sunny do what's best for both his family and city in a time of crisis?
As The Last Hurrah embodied urban politics for a previous generation, Windy City captures politics in the multiethnic tumult of today's big city, where a stalled subway raises fears of a terrorist attack and smoke-filled rooms are abolished by no-smoking statutes. The story takes a raft of colorful characters pinky-ringed pols, pious reformers, money-grubbers, and wheeler-dealers of every creed, color, and proclivity through City Hall corridors, neighborhood restaurants and clubs, weddings, sex scandals, gospel churches, police stations, and sting operations to deliver an ending that is unexpectedly noble.
Windy City is a roller coaster of a novel that dips and soars through the amusement park of politics. With echoes of Primary Colors and Thank You for Smoking, Windy City will win votes as the best political novel in many years. Its personal story about a flawed, decent man thrust suddenly under hot lights will also win hearts.
"In his second novel, the host of National Public Radio's Weekend Edition paints a detailed portrait of Chicago politics, beginning with the sudden death of the mayor. The focus quickly shifts to Indian vice-mayor Sunny Roopini, who must assuage a traumatized electorate while laying down a few paving stones for the mayor's successor. Matters are further complicated when the police discover deadly amounts of liquid nicotine on the late mayor's pizza, a revelation that inspires a mayoral staffer to leap from his apartment window. Roopini's brief interim mayorship proves to be a minefield of favors, accommodations and downright extortion the latter by a U.S. Attorney determined to dig up any ethical hiccup he can. The suffocating political life is enough to beckon Roopini toward retirement (particularly with his two daughters on the cusp of adulthood), but the city doesn't seem willing to let him go. The proceedings can be fascinating, but Simon is too attached to his (admittedly impressive) descriptive powers, dragging the narrative through a swamp of mannerisms, fashion sketches, culinary processes and (especially) political maneuvering. Politics junkies will get off on the detail, but readers with less than a passing interest in the sausage-making that goes on at City Hall may be frustrated." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
For readers who loved Primary Colors and Thank You for Smoking comes this wise and funny novel of politics Chicago-style from NPR anchor and national bestselling author Simon.
About the Author
Scott Simon is the host of NPR's Weekend Edition with Scott Simon. He has reported stories from all fifty states and every continent, covered ten wars, from El Salvador to Iraq, and has won every major award in broadcasting. He is the author of Home and Away, a memoir; Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball; and the novel Pretty Birds. He lives with his wife, Caroline, and their daughters, Elise and Lina.