Tuesday, February 19, 2019

As the Cities Change

By Scott Adlerberg

Unless you were in winter hibernation, you must have heard last week that Amazon scrapped its plans to open a so-called second headquarters in New York City.  Among the points the whole issue involved was gentrification.  How would Amazon's opening of a so-called corporate park in the middle of an already rapidly gentrifying neighborhood - Long Island City, Queens - affect that neighborhood? 

There have been some good pieces written recently about crime fiction and gentrification and how, though gentrification is not a new topic to crime fiction, it is right now a major one that merits deeper exploration.  Nick Kolakowski, who lives in New York, wrote a good piece about this a couple of weeks ago - How Gentification May Force Crime Fiction to Change -  and there's an insightful piece Sam Wiebe wrote last year about the changes going on in his hometown of Vancouver - Expect No Mercy: Crime Fiction and Gentrification.  As they say in these pieces, both of them use their books to get into the problems and dilemmas raised by gentrification, Kolakowski in his newest, Main Bad Guy, Weibe in his, Cut You Down.  

On my bedside table now, planned as my next read, is the coming novel from Richie Narvaez, Hipster Death Rattle.  

Narvaez, who grew up in New York, tells a murder mystery set in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. As the book's description says, it's a story set against a backdrop of rapid gentrification, skyrocketing rents, and class tension. I'm eager to read it, and to be honest, to read more crime fiction set in the present that gets into these areas. As someone who lives in a Brooklyn neighborhood, Bed-Sty, that has been gentrifying for several years now, it's a subject, I realize, that I've thought about a lot but for some reason haven't sought out much in fiction. That will change. And for the foreseeable future, as the once abundant seedy parts of many large cities continue to shrink, as these cities only get more and more expensive to live in, I imagine that gentrification and its attendant issues won't be a subject for urban crime fiction that will be getting stale any time soon.

1 comment:

Jason said...

Solid Nick Kolakowski piece. Thanks for sharing.