A year after Chicago's librarians and booksellers chose To Kill a Mockingbird as the book to bring the city together, a similar group of literary busybodies has taken up the cause in New York. But the front-runner, Chang-rae Lee's Native Speaker, seems unlikely to unite the committee (one faction is vying for James McBride's The Color of Water), let alone a city of 8 million. We asked New York's literati, "What book should we all read at the same time?"
"The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton, a killer novel capable of getting the city's population weeping as one."
"Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser, the first great American novel of the city."
"U.S.A., by John Dos Passos."
"Sleepless Nights, by Elizabeth Hardwick, a book of dreams and memories, both true and false, about coming to New York from Kentucky, choosing New York, sticking with New York."
"Chang-rae Lee is a very good friend of mine, so if you want a better book than Native Speaker, I'd say A Gesture Life, his other book."
"The Color of Water is a piece of shit. Librarians are the nicest people we have, but why don't they leave us alone?"
"The only book that would turn New York into a giant book club is a checkbook!"