The Thieves of Manhattan

By Adam Langer
(Spiegel & Grau, Paperback, 9781400068913, 259pp.)

Publication Date: July 13, 2010

List Price: $15.00*
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the August 2010 Indie Notables
“Ian Minot is a schlumpy short story writer, working in a coffee shop in Morningside Heights. He's got a Romanian girlfriend, a slightly more promising scribe, and works with a struggling actor and a struggling artist. One of their customers is reading Blade by Blade, a hit memoir of a man who was both an AWOL soldier in the first Iraq war and a member of an L.A. gang and speaks hackneyed slang. When Jed Roth (said customer) reveals that not only was he fired from his job for refusing to sign Blade Markham's memoir, but he has a foolproof plan for revenge, he slowly snares Ian in a plan to pass off Jed's over-the-top novel of a stolen manuscript from a now-destroyed library as Ian's life story. It's so outrageous it just might work, only first Ian has to sort all the many frauds in his life from the one thing that actually may be real, the manuscript itself. It's an over-the-top modern, name-dropping, New York swashbuckler, packed with literary allusions, plot twists, and gumshoe slang lifted straight from Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Franzen. Broad-stroked characterization (of course) and implausible plotting (to say the least), but ultimately, a wildly enjoyable literary tilt-a-whirl. Super fun!”
-- Daniel Goldin, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI


The famously false memoirs of James Frey may be yesterday’s news, but as this funny riff reminds us, literary fakes are as old as literature itself. Ian Minot is an aspiring writer who labors over short stories that seem destined to remain unread. His beautiful Romanian girlfriend, Anya Petrescu, finds success more easily—and leaves Ian for Blade Markham, a bloviating ex-gangbanger whose “so-called memoir” is a best-seller. When Ian is approached by ex-editor Jed Roth, who wants Ian to publish Jed’s pulpy tale of book theft and murder as a memoir, then renounce it, it’s a chance for both of them to get revenge: Jed on his former employer, and Ian on the world. Although Langer may be too cute for some (he employs made-up slang in which a penis is a portnoy), he does an engaging job with the hall-of-mirrors plot. And if readers can predict that the book they’re reading is the one that Ian ends up writing, they’ll never guess the ending. Just when you want a surprising twist, Langer delivers several.

About the Author
Born and raised in Chicago, Adam Langer is the author of the novels "Crossing California", "The Washington Story", "Ellington Boulevard", and "The Thieves of Manhattan", and the memoir "My Father's Bonus March". His has written about books and authors for such publications as the "Chicago Tribune", the "Los Angeles Times", the "New York Times", the "Huffington Post", the "San Francisco Chronicle", and the "Washington Post", among others. He has been a frequent radio and TV guest, including appearances on CNN, Fox, and NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered". The Chicago Public Library recently purchased a significant collection of his papers. He is the former senior editor of "Book Magazine" and currently serves as the arts and culture editor of the "Jewish Daily Forward". Langer lives in New York City with his wife, Beate; his daughters, Nora and Solveig; and their dog, Kazoo.

Sunday, Aug 1, 2010

Adam Langer's enigmatic new novel, The Thieves Of Manhattan, twists and turns like a Mobius strip. The author speaks with Liane Hansen about his myriad influences, his love of puzzles, and how his novel simultaneously skews and celebrates the industry of literature. More at

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