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NYS Writers Institute, Tuesday, November 29, 2016
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Assembly Hall, Campus Center
8:00 p.m. Reading | Page Hall, 135 Western Ave., Downtown Campus

Garth Risk Hallberg will read from his bestselling debut novel, City on Fire (2015), at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 29 in Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, on the University at Albany’s downtown campus.  Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m. the author will hold an informal seminar in the Assembly Hall, on UAlbany’s uptown campus. Free and open to the public, the events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute.

City On FirePROFILE:
Garth Risk Hallberg will discuss and read from his international bestseller City on Fire (2015). His debut novel was named one of the best books of 2015 by The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and Vogue. Michiko Kakutani, reviewer for The New York Times, called the book “a novel of head-snapping ambition and heart-stopping power—a novel that attests to the young author’s boundless and unflagging talents.”  Novelist Stephen King rated City on Fire “as close to a great American novel as this century has produced.”

City on Fire is set in New York City and spans a seven month period between New Year’s Eve 1976 through the city’s blackouts in July of 1977. The story revolves around a varied web of characters—two estranged heirs to one of the city’s great fortunes; two suburban teenagers involved in Manhattan’s punk scene; a magazine reporter; and a detective—whose lives interconnect around a shooting in Central Park.

Vanity Fair dubs the book “a soaring debut. . . . Over the course of Hallberg’s magisterial epic, distinctions of class, race, geography, and generation give way to an impression of the human condition that is both ambitious and sublime.”  A book of epic proportion at more than 900 pages, reviewers also have praised the very fine level of craftsmanship.  Frank Rich, writing for The New York Times Sunday Book Review described Hallberg’s talent “as conspicuous as the book’s heft. There’s rarely a less than finely honed sentence or a moment when you don’t feel a sophisticated intelligence at work.” 

The book, for which Knopf paid $2 million for the publishing rights in a bidding war with a dozen other publishers, has received universal praise for vividly capturing the essence of New York City in the 1970s. Louis Menard, reviewer for The New Yorker, who lived in New York in the 1970s, said “Hallberg’s powers of evocation are uncanny.”  Other reviewers agree that City on Fire deserves a place among other great homages to the City. Vogue calls the book “[An] exuberant, Zeitgeisty New York novel, like The Bonfire of the Vanities, The Emperor’s Children, or The Goldfinch.”  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette declared that “like Jonathan Franzen and Michael Chabon, Hallberg is brilliant at communicating the special energy of Manhattan. Unlike them, however, he paints on a much broader canvas.” 

Hallberg is also the author of a novella, A Field Guide to the North American Family (2007). His short stories have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Glimmer Train, and Best New American Voices 2008. A two-time finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Excellence in Reviewing, his critical essays have appeared in the The New York Times Book Review, The Guardian, Slate, and The Millions.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst