The largest community reading program in the country returns for a second year
New Yorkers will vote for one book among five titles set on the streets of New York and reflecting the city's diverse neighborhoods
5,000 copies of the nominated books will be available in libraries throughout the five boroughs
NEW YORK – Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin today announced the return of One Book, One New York, an exciting citywide initiative that brings book-loving New Yorkers together to read the same book at the same time. Building on the enormous success of the program's inaugural year in 2017, this year's campaign, in partnership with New York Magazine and Vulture, features five acclaimed titles. Throughout the month of April, New Yorkers will cast their votes at NYC.gov/OneBook to determine the one book the whole city will read together.
The nominated books, all featuring New York City neighborhoods are:
"We are thrilled to present the five books in contention for this year's One Book, One New York program," said Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin. "These beautifully told tales reflect the rich variety of experiences and voices that make New York's literary culture second to none. We hope once again that One Book, One New York will inspire great conversations, foster compassion in difficult times, support our vital publishing industry, and spur New Yorkers to rediscover their local libraries and neighborhood bookstores."
Seeking stories reflecting New York City's rich history, diverse neighborhoods and resilient people, the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment consulted with literary leaders throughout the city for suggestions on which books to include in this year's One Book, One New York. New York Magazine and Vulture's book editors helped whittle down the list to five books, each of which delves into the lives of complex characters, from groundbreaking women to struggling artists to new immigrants, grappling with adversity as they try to forge a life and identity in New York City neighborhoods. They explore themes of missing fathers, tragic love and racial injustice through the eyes of unforgettable narrators that will speak to book lovers and new audiences alike.
"For 50 years, storytelling with flair has been integral to our mission at New York Magazine, and we're delighted to team up with the Mayor's office to champion these five books rich with city life and distinctive New York voices," said New York Media CEO Pam Wasserstein.
Each of the authors has a unique connection to New York.
"New York City has been my inspiration and my muse for decades, and never more so than while I worked on Manhattan Beach," said author Jennifer Egan. "I'm lucky to live in this splendid, inexhaustible city, and honored to be a contender for its One Book, One New York program."
"Books saved my life," said Esmeralda Santiago, author of When I Was Puerto Rican. "Newly arrived from rural Puerto Rico, with no English and feeling lost in a big city, I discovered the Bushwick branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, a bright, warm, place where I could be lost without feeling endangered. I feel honored to be among the writers whose stories will help future generations reflect their experiences and struggles as they steer their own lives, mentored by such generous guides."
"In the last decade, I've made a life in New York. I got married in the courthouse downtown, my children were born here," said Hari Kunzru, author of White Tears. "To be part of One Book is extraordinary. It makes me feel welcomed. It makes me very proud."
"Behold the Dreamers is, among many things, a love song to my adopted hometown of New York City, so it is a tremendous privilege for me, that it is being considered for One Book, One New York," said author Imbolo Mbue.
"From my earliest days as an undergraduate student, James Baldwin's life and work have provided a guiding force that has given me the courage to pursue work that has meaning and social impact," said Barry Jenkins, writer/director of the film adaption of If Beale Street Could Talk. "With If Beale Street Could Talk, my favorite author renders the city and neighborhood that raised him in unflinching detail and with endless empathy and grace."
The publishers of the five nominated books have provided copies to each of New York City's library branches (5,000 copies in all); the books will also be available for sale at bookstores throughout the city.
This year's One Book, One New York includes a public awareness campaign that will blanket New York City with information on how to vote online at NYC.gov/OneBook. Ads on subway cars in all five boroughs, as well as a One Book, One New York video campaign to be broadcast throughout the month of April on Taxi TV and on NYC Media, the City's flagship television channel, will encourage New Yorkers to vote for their favorite nominated book.
On Thursday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m., the four living nominated authors, Imbolo Mbue, Hari Kunzru, Esmeralda Santiago, and Jennifer Egan, as well as director Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), who is making a film of the late James Baldwin's If Beale Street Could Talk, will join a panel discussion as part of the Pen America World Voices Festival. Held at The New School's auditorium in the Alvin Johnson/J.M. Hall, the event is free and open to the public on a first come, first served basis. Click here to register.
As part of the fourth annual Vulture Festival at Milk Studios on May 19-20, the winning One Book author will be featured in conversation with a New York Magazine / Vulture editor. This event will also be free and open to the public. To find out more about Vulture Festival and register for the One Book One New York winning author event, visit http://vulturefestival.com/onebookny after the winning book has been announced.
After the month-long voting period, the winning book will be announced in early May. Once the winning book is picked, New Yorkers can look for events at their local libraries and throughout the city that will keep the discussion going all summer long.
One Book, One New York is intended not only to encourage a sense of community among New Yorkers, but also to support the City's book publishing and bookselling industries. New York City is the country's book publishing capital, home to the "Big Five" publishing companies – Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillan – along with many of the most prominent independent and academic publishing houses in the country. In recent years, both the publishing and bookselling industries have faced significant challenges. An unsettling number of independent book stores have closed, along with several Barnes and Noble branches. The Bronx currently has no bookstores at all. Both Queens and Staten Island are underserved.
"Every day, people find common ground and new perspectives in the books, programs, and services offered at The New York Public Library," said NYPL President Tony Marx. "Now, when the world can feel more divided than ever, One Book, One New York is an exciting opportunity to bring New Yorkers together through the power of reading. We are thrilled to participate again this year."
"We are looking forward to once again being part of the largest community reading program in the country," said Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library. "This year's titles—all set in New York City — reflect the creativity and diversity that make our city thrive, and we can't wait to get reading."
"Queens Library is proud to partner again this year with the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment on the One Book, One New York campaign and give people another reason to visit us at one of our branches in person or online," said Queens Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. "We plan to reach as many people as we can to get the vote out for these five contenders and get the word out about the joy of discovering and discussing a great book."
"Independent bookstores across the city are proud to support and work with One Book, One New York. As original fans and hand sellers of all the nominated books, we are proud to recommend these wonderful titles", says Eileen Dengler, Executive Director of The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association. "Every day we work to put the right book into someone's hands."
"Barnes & Noble is thrilled to continue its support of One Book, One New York for the second year of this exciting campaign to engage readers across the city," said Liz Harwell, Senior Director of Merchandising, Trade Books at Barnes & Noble. "We're constantly looking at new ways to bring our customers together, and we invite all New Yorkers to visit their local store during One Book, One New York, to learn more about the program and to find the book that they're most passionate about."
"Books are a powerful way for us to understand the thoughts, ideas, and experiences of those who are different from ourselves," said Public Advocate Letitia James. "From If Beale Street Could Talk, to When I Was Puerto Rican, these nominated books differ in the New York experience, while at the same time, celebrating the incredible diversity and culture that communities throughout our City have to offer. I thank Commissioner Menin for once again spearheading this successful community reading program, and I encourage all New Yorkers to get involved and vote in the initiative."
"As the old public service announcements used to say, 'reading is fundamental'," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "The return of 'One Book, One New York' takes it much farther. It transforms the pleasure of a single novel into a citywide cultural phenomenon. I thank the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment for their work and urge all New Yorkers to consider and vote on these five excellent contenders."
"Art and literature bring people together in powerful ways. When we read together, we live together," said Council Member Van Bramer, Chair of the City Council's Committee on Cultural Affairs and Libraries. "One Book, One New York allows people from across the City to have a shared experience. This initiative creates common ground, inspires thoughtful conversations and provides New Yorkers an exciting opportunity to connect with each other, their communities and their local libraries."
"New York City is the book publishing capital of the world, and as such we must be sure to always encourage and promote the joys of reading. As a representative of one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city, I am happy to see this diversity reflected in the nominated books, and I encourage everyone who loves reading to take part in this fun and exciting literary activity." City Council Member Peter Koo, Chair of the Technology Committee.