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Patti Smith's Award-Winning NYC Memoir Just Kids Chosen as Winner of 2019's 'One Book, One New York'

Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment and BuzzFeed News celebrate a diverse slate of female authors

1000 copies of winning book available at libraries throughout the five boroughs


NEW YORK, NY – Throughout April, New Yorkers voted for the book they wanted the entire city to read together as part of "One Book, One New York." Today, the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) Commissioner Anne del Castillo and Buzzfeed Books announced Patti Smith's Just Kids as the winning book.

<i>Just Kids</i>

With New Yorkers voting online, the campaign generated millions of social media impressions and a citywide discussion about which book should win the third annual competition.

"We are pleased to announce that Patti Smith's quintessential New York City memoir and love story, Just Kids, is the book New Yorkers voted to read all together this year," said Media and Entertainment Commissioner Anne del Castillo. "We were thrilled to present a talented slate of female authors representing a diverse range of backgrounds, ethnicities and life experiences for New Yorkers to choose from, and it is deeply gratifying how the One Book, One New York program continues to generate such enthusiasm."

Patti Smith is the legendary American writer, performer, and artist whose books include Just Kids (and the Just Kids Illustrated edition), The Coral Sea, M Train, Witt, Babel, Woolgathering, and Auguries of Innocence. Her seminal album "Horses" has been hailed as one of the top one hundred albums of all time.

In the award-winning Just Kids, Smith offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies. An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work. Just Kids serves as a salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists' ascent, a prelude to fame.

Published by Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins, Just Kids is a New York Times bestseller and the winner of numerous accolades including the National Book Award for Nonfiction, the National Book Critics Circle Award finalist (Autobiography/ Memoir), Publishers Weekly's Top 10 Best Books, ALA Notable Book, Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist, and People magazine's Top Ten books of 2010.

"When Robert Mapplethorpe and I stepped from Brooklyn to Manhattan, a half century ago, we were empty-handed yet possessed a vision of how we wished to evolve as artists and human beings," said Patti Smith. "New York was the city that welcomed and formed us, was emblematic of our struggles and successes. It is moving to imagine that our story will represent, through One Book, One New York, the countless stories of those who come to our diverse and complex city, with dreams of their own. Robert would be as happy as I am to achieve this recognition, especially grateful that the book has been chosen by the same readers for whom it was written."

To celebrate Just Kids being chosen as this year's One Book, One New York winning selection, Smith will appear at Symphony Space, as part of the PEN America World Voices Festival on May 10 in a conversation with Buzzfeed Books editor Ariana Rebolini and will be introduced by last year's One Book winning author, Jennifer Egan.

"One Book, One New York helped to put Manhattan Beach into the hands of thousands of New Yorkers," said Jennifer Egan. "I'm ecstatic that Just Kids, by my childhood idol and hero, Patti Smith, will now be celebrated and contemplated in the very city where it takes place."

Smith will also appear at the Center for Fiction the week of September 16-20. Additionally, as an exciting new feature to this year's One book campaign, Just Kids will be the centerpiece of the BuzzFeed Book Club for the month of July, where book lovers across the country can join New Yorkers in reading and discussing the book together online.

Each of the nominated books this year delves into the city's diverse neighborhoods and history and was written by a female author who calls New York City home. The other four finalists included:

"I'm thrilled for New Yorkers to experience the beauty of Just Kids together," said BuzzFeed Books Editor Arianna Rebolini. "Even though the New York City Patti Smith so lovingly describes might not look like the one we're currently living in, the magic of it — the energy, hopefulness, creative passion — will surely resonate with (and inspire!) those who are here now, working away at their own dreams. We're so grateful to New Yorkers for voting, and to all of the remarkable finalists for their stories and participation."

In addition to the 500 copies of Just Kids donated to New York City's 219 public library branches, Ecco is generously donating 500 additional copies to ensure that as many New Yorkers as possible have free access to the winning book.

"We are over-the-top at Ecco that Just Kids has been chosen as the 2019 One Book, One New York read," said Daniel Halpern, President and Publisher of Ecco. "Patti Smith's Just Kids is the remarkable story of a true artist coming of age and into her own in New York City. It is a New York story in every way—from the streets of Brooklyn to the Chelsea Hotel. Congratulations to all the finalists and to the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment and One Book, One New York for spotlighting books inspired and created by the artists of this city."

The five finalists were announced in March, and voting took place online throughout the month of April. Seeking stories written by NYC-based authors, the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment and the Buzzfeed News's book and culture editors consulted with literary leaders at the New York Public Library and Brooklyn's new Center for Fiction for suggestions on which books to include in the year's One Book, One New York. Eventually, the list was whittled down to five titles, each with a strong female character leading a complicated life. Common topics amongst the titles include the complexities of families – the families we are born into and the families we choose to make our own.

The One Book, One New York website will be updated regularly, with a wide variety of book clubs and reading groups that will spring up across the city all summer long. New Yorkers are encouraged to keep up with the latest developments by visiting