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History 21st Century

New Yorkers

A City and Its People in Our Time

by (author) Craig Taylor

Doubleday Canada
Initial publish date
Mar 2021
21st Century, 21st Century, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2021
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2022
    List Price

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A symphony of contemporary New York through the magnificent words of its people—from the best-selling author of Londoners.

In the first twenty years of the twenty-first century, New York City has been convulsed by terrorist attack, blackout, hurricane, recession, social injustice, and pandemic. New Yorkers weaves the voices of some of the city's best talkers into an indelible portrait of New York in our time--and a powerful hymn to the vitality and resilience of its people.
Best-selling author Craig Taylor has been hailed as "a peerless journalist and a beautiful craftsman" (David Rakoff), and acclaimed for the way he "fuses the mundane truth of conversation with the higher truth of art" (Michel Faber). In the wake of his celebrated book Londoners, Taylor moved to New York and spent years meeting regularly with hundreds of New Yorkers as diverse as the city itself. New Yorkers features 75 of the most remarkable of them, their fascinating true tales arranged in thematic sections that follow Taylor's growing engagement with the city.
Here are the uncelebrated people who propel New York each day--bodega cashier, hospital nurse, elevator repairman, emergency dispatcher. Here are those who wire the lights at the top of the Empire State Building, clean the windows of Rockefeller Center, and keep the subway running. Here are people whose experiences reflect the city's fractured realities: a Latina mother of a teenager jailed at Rikers, a BLM activist in the wake of police shootings. And here are those who capture the ineffable feeling of New York, such as a balloon handler in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade or a security guard at the Statue of Liberty.
Vibrant and bursting with life, New Yorkers explores the nonstop hustle to make it; the pressures on new immigrants, people of color, and the poor; the constant battle between loving the city and wanting to leave it; and the question of who gets to be considered a "New Yorker." It captures the strength of an irrepressible city that--no matter what it goes through--dares call itself the greatest in the world.

About the author

Contributor Notes

CRAIG TAYLOR is the author of the bestselling Londoners, Return to Akenfield, and One Million Tiny Plays About Britain. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, and McSweeney's. He lives in British Columbia, Canada.

Editorial Reviews


"COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way we live in and move around cities. So Craig Taylor's New Yorkers serves as welcome reminder of the can't-be-stopped NYC that we all know and love. The 10-years-in-the-making book paints a vibrant portrait of New York, delving into tales from every corner of the city as Taylor talks with a blind man who navigates the streets by smell, an electrician who keeps the lights on at the Empire State Building, and a rapper on the sounds of the city. These are quintessential stories from the people who make New York . . . well, New York." —Toronto Star

"A teeming oral history. . . . [This] kaleidoscopic portrait captures the city's thrilling lexical diversity, as well as moments of grace, compassion, cruelty and racism." —The New Yorker

"An engrossing, multihued 'oral portrait' of New York City as told by the people who live there. . . . Expertly edited and arranged, these striking snapshots make clear that in New York, 'the people are the texture.' Admirers of the Big Apple will be enthralled." —Publishers Weekly
"A lively portrait of a city in constant transformation. . . . [a] fine and fearless follow-up to Londoners—fine because it’s so thoughtful and revealing, fearless because the author’s method is to engage strangers in conversation that quickly becomes oral history. . . . Altogether, a compelling portrait of New York and a must-read for residents and visitors alike." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"[Taylor] moved to New York with a mission: to listen. He spent six years interviewing New Yorkers . . . . Reading their stories—which together build a portrait of the city in all its contradictions—feels like eavesdropping on conversations in the best way." —Maclean's

"Extraordinary city stories . . . ambitious and entertaining. . . . Much of the pleasure of New Yorkers comes from a kind of sly parataxis. . . . The effect is like one of those high modernist paeans to urban life . . . a narrative montage of faces and perspectives. . . . A book that admirably succeeds in what it sets out to do. . . . [Taylor] does a fine job of telling the New York story." —The Guardian

"A beautifully woven tapestry." —The Sunday Times

"Jaw dropping . . . enthralling. . . . Start spreading the news: Taylor's book is a stunning work of modern social history." —The Independent

"Craig Taylor's intimate, loving and lyrical oral history of New York doesn't shy away from the darkness and despair of city life." —The Irish Times

"Craig Taylor has conducted Gotham’s voices into a gorgeous score. He has such a gift for getting cities to pause for their solos and close ups. With Londoners and now New Yorkers a decade later, he's like a Carson, a Winfrey, a Letterman of the vox populi: generous with each human he sits down with, making them look good without any makeup and giving them all the best lines. I've never heard New York sound this good, this in tune, despite its seas of trouble." —Leanne Shapton, author of Swimming Studies
"Intriguing. . . . A fascinating picture of a city that can be loathed and hated, yet admired and revered at the same time. A varied book that will appeal to armchair travelers and others curious about New York." —Library Journal

"A delightful book for anyone with an interest in New York—and a reminder that everyone has a story, if we're willing to listen." —BookPage

"[A] remarkable book. . . . [Taylor] manages to convey the zest and ebullience of New Yorkers, captured in the punchiness of their speech patterns." —Daily Mail
"Craig Taylor corrals under one roof so many of the remarkable characters who populate 'the city that never sleeps' that it amazes me anew. The author blends scores of marvellous human stories, told in each individual's own words, into a kind of magnificent chorus of human striving, which sometimes swells to an absolute crescendo in New York." —Irish Examiner

"Every decade or so, a book comes along to define an epoch in New York life: Joe Gould's Secret, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Power Broker, Random Family . . . Craig Taylor's New Yorkers is one of those. It is a monumental document of our age of precarity, catastrophe, and scrolling anomie. Just as importantly, though, it is an antidote, the opposite of a lockdown: a welcoming into the apartments of our neighbors and out into the living street. For those newly arrived to the city or long in love with it, New Yorkers belongs on the short shelf of required reading." —Garth Risk Hallberg, author of City on Fire
"Craig Taylor's New Yorkers is a monumental and beautiful testimony to a city and to life itself.  Joseph Mitchell, one of the great chroniclers of New York and whose work Taylor wonderfully continues, once profiled an unusual man named Joe Gould who said, more or less, that by overhearing the conversations of New Yorkers you could know the world and all its history. And this is what Craig Taylor has done: not just reveal a city, but the human spirit that lights the city; that spirit, which despite its flaws and madness, seems in the end to always wish to transform chaos and hatred into meaning and love." —Jonathan Ames, author of The Extra Man
"One of the most enjoyable trips to New York I've ever taken: fascinating, exciting and weird. Like the very best kind of guide, Craig Taylor showed me parts of the city I would never have found on my own." —Chris Power
"Craig Taylor gets us. His sojourn in New York has resulted in a wonderful portrait of the city and its people, in good times and in bad, living, persevering, triumphant." —Kevin Baker

"An incredible achievement. Insightful, funny, surprising, profound, moving and honest. This could be the great American novel—and it isn't even a novel." —Joe Dunthorne

"As gorgeous, cacophonous, and shocking as New York itself. Like those great oral historians Studs Terkel and Ronald Blythe, Craig Taylor has the gift of drawing out the most idiosyncratic confidences, creating a magical, uproarious and sometimes terrifying portrait of life in the ultimate city." ―Olivia Laing, author of Everybody
"New York is nothing if not its people, and in New Yorkers Craig Taylor has given us their voices―wary and wise; insistent or sweet; fast and sage and sometimes oblique; impossible, often, to forget. This is a marvelous portrait of the city now, and bound to last." ―Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, co-creator of Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas
"Craig deftly captures the pith of the Big Apple just as he did the grit of the London particular." —Ben Schott, author of Jeeves and the King of Clubs

"This is a stunning piece of work. New Yorkers is rich with the voices and stories of the city; voices that Craig Taylor has listened to with attentive generosity and that he offers us here with something close to love." —Jon McGregor, author of Reservoir-13

"In New Yorkers he has both perfected the method and found new range in his own voice. I lived in the city for six of the years covered here, but though Taylor does capture a tone I remember, I feel more that I've come to know the place better through the lens of his curiosity." —John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead