After tens of thousands of votes, close to six million social media impressions, and a citywide discussion, New Yorkers have selected the book they want the whole city to read together as part of “One Book, One New York”: Jennifer Egan’s award-winning “Manhattan Beach.”
“Manhattan Beach” is the winner of a competition held by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, New York Magazine and Vulture that will encourage New Yorkers to read the book in the coming months, and to participate in free events hosted by public libraries throughout the five boroughs. The other finalists were James Baldwin’s “If Beale Street Could Talk,” Hari Kunzru’s “White Tears,” Imbolo Mbue’s “Behold the Dreamers,” and Esmerelda Santiago’s “When I Was Puerto Rican.”
“Manhattan Beach” tells the story of Anna Kerrigan, a woman who during World War II becomes the Navy’s first female diver. A Brooklyn resident herself, Egan’s story is set in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and developing Brooklyn neighborhoods of the time.
Egan’s five novels have earned her a Pulitzer Prize among other prestigious awards, but of this project she said: “The city of New York was my muse and my collaborator on this project, and it’s thrilling to think of the book being widely read in the five boroughs that inspired it.”
Egan did considerable historical research to write “Manhattan Beach,” including interviews with many New Yorkers who lived through World War II. She also partnered with the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Brooklyn Historical Society to help create an archive of Navy Yard workers’ stories, including many from the women who held jobs there.
In addition to the 1,000 copies of “Manhattan Beach” donated to New York City’s public library systems for the contest launch, Scribner (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) is generously donating 500 additional copies to ensure that as many New Yorkers as possible have free access to the winning book. Librarians of New York City’s three public library systems will bring discussions of “Manhattan Beach” into communities throughout all five boroughs. Many of New York City’s 200 neighborhood library branches will feature creative and distinctive programming around “Manhattan Beach” and its themes.
About Jennifer Egan: Jennifer Egan is the author of five previous books of fiction: A Visit from the Goon Squad, which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Keep; the story collection Emerald City; Look at Me, a National Book Award Finalist; and The Invisible Circus. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, Granta, McSweeney’s, and The New York Times Magazine.