Friday, September 15, 2006

Is there a distinctive Brooklyn literary tradition?

Is there a distinctive Brooklyn literary tradition?
You could make an argument for it, though the Brooklyn voice has evolved [writes Dinitia Smith in today's New York Times]. In the earliest colonial days, Brooklyn was seen as a kind of Eden. Writers celebrated its light, its air. The man sometimes called the first Brooklyn writer, Jasper Danckaerts, wrote in his journal in 1679 of its open roads and little woods: “It is impossible to tell how many peach trees we passed, all laden with fruit to breaking down.” And the first really famous Brooklyn writer, Walt Whitman, saw it in the same golden light: “Stand up, beautiful hills of Brooklyn!” he cried in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.”
Among the writers who have lived in Brooklyn more recently: Marianne Moore, Norman Mailer, W. H. Auden, Carson McCullers, Paul and Jane Bowles, Richard Wright, and Truman Capote.

Current writer-Brooklynites include Paul Auster, Jonathan Safran Foer and his wife Nicole Krauss, Susan Choi, Jennifer Egan, and Jhumpa Lahiri.

Get your fill of the subject tomorrow at The Brooklyn Book Festival, which will go on from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in and around Brooklyn Borough Hall, Downtown Brooklyn. A full schedule of readings, panels and other events is at

In related news on the blog:
click here for a literary guide to Brooklyn;
click here for the most shoplifted novelist in New York;
click here for Cary Federman's Brooklyn-centric take on The Great New York City Novel.

--Marshal Zeringue