Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue
A Novel of Pastry, Guilt and Music
By Mark Kurlansky
Random House Trade, Paperback, 9780345448194, 319pp.
Publication Date: February 28, 2006
List Price: $13.95*
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It’s the boom years of the 1980s, and life is closing in on Nathan Seltzer, who rarely travels beyond his suddenly gentrifying Lower East Side neighborhood in New York City. Between paralyzing bouts of claustrophobia, Nathan wonders whether he should cheat on his wife with Karoline, a German pastry maker whose parents may or may not have been Nazis. His father, Harry, is plotting with the 1960s boogaloo star Chow Mein Vega for the comeback of this dance craze. Meanwhile, a homicidal drug addict is terrorizing the neighborhood.
With its cast of unforgettable characters, Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue is a comedy of cultures, of the old and the new. It’s about struggling to hold on to life in a rapidly changing world, about food and sex, and about how our lives are shaped by love and guilt.
“An addictive read . . . smart, funny, [and] formidable.”
–Los Angeles Times Book Review
“A joyful celebration of a New York neighborhood in the late 1980s . . . [a] lively mix of cultures . . . Kurlansky knows how to make food sexy.”
–The New York Times Book Review
“[A] riotous tale . . . a pitch-perfect symbol of culture clash. Alternately sociological and silly, Boogaloo is a hit.”
–The Washington Post Book World
“[A] comedy of gentrification . . . a cocktail of Jews, Italians, Puerto Ricans, Poles, Germans and Dominicans, of different eras, music and, above all, foods, clashing and conjoining . . . [Kurlansky] has admirably re-created the texture of the pre-boom neighborhood, with just the right mixture of sweet and tart, tangy and spicy.”
“Funny . . . poignant . . . spot-on writing.”
–San Francisco Chronicle