The Best New York Fiction & Literature Books

“What are the best New York Fiction & Literature?” We looked at 283 of the top NY Fiction books, aggregating and ranking them so we could answer that very question!

The top 35 titles, all appearing on 3 or more “Best NY Fiction” book lists, are ranked below by how many lists they appear on. The remaining 200+ titles, as well as the lists we used are in alphabetical order at the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



Top 35 New York Literature Books



35 .) A Little Life written by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Goodreads
  • Penguin Random House

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.



34 .) A Visit from the Goon Squad written by Jennifer Egan

A Visit from the Goon Squad

Lists It Appears On:

  • Business Insider
  • Penguin Random House
  • The Guardian

Jennifer Egan’s spellbinding interlocking narratives circle the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa. We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist’s couch in New York City, confronting her long-standing compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then as a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We plunge into the hidden yearnings and disappointments of her uncle, an art historian stuck in a dead marriage, who travels to Naples to extract Sasha from the city’s demimonde and experiences an epiphany of his own while staring at a sculpture of Orpheus and Eurydice in the Museo Nazionale. We meet Bennie Salazar at the melancholy nadir of his adult life—divorced, struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son, listening to a washed-up band in the basement of a suburban house—and then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, shy and tender, reveling in San Francisco’s punk scene as he discovers his ardor for rock and roll and his gift for spotting talent. We learn what became of his high school gang—who thrived and who faltered—and we encounter Lou Kline, Bennie’s catastrophically careless mentor, along with the lovers and children left behind in the wake of Lou’s far-flung sexual conquests and meteoric rise and fall. A Visit from the Goon Squad is a book about the interplay of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most passing conjunction of our fates. In a breathtaking array of styles and tones ranging from tragedy to satire to PowerPoint, Egan captures the undertow of self-destruction that we all must either master or succumb to; the basic human hunger for redemption; and the universal tendency to reach for both—and escape the merciless progress of time—in the transporting realms of art and music. Sly, startling, exhilarating work from one of our boldest writers.



33 .) Another Country (1962) written by James Baldwin

Another Country (1962)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Complex
  • Curbed

Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read Set in Greenwich Village, Harlem, and France, among other locales, Another Country is a novel of passions–sexual, racial, political, artistic–that is stunning for its emotional intensity and haunting sensuality, depicting men and women, blacks and whites, stripped of their masks of gender and race by love and hatred at the most elemental and sublime. In a small set of friends, Baldwin imbues the best and worst intentions of liberal America in the early 1970s.



32 .) Bright Lights, Big City (1984) written by Jay McInerney

Bright Lights, Big City (1984)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Complex
  • Goodreads

With the publication of Bright Lights, Big City in 1984, Jay McInerney became a literary sensation, heralded as the voice of a generation. The novel follows a young man, living in Manhattan as if he owned it, through nightclubs, fashion shows, editorial offices, and loft parties as he attempts to outstrip mortality and the recurring approach of dawn. With nothing but goodwill, controlled substances, and wit to sustain him in this anti-quest, he runs until he reaches his reckoning point, where he is forced to acknowledge loss and, possibly, to rediscover his better instincts. This remarkable novel of youth and New York remains one of the most beloved, imitated, and iconic novels in America.



31 .) Call It Sleep (1934) written by Henry Roth

Call It Sleep (1934)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Complex
  • Goodreads
  • The Culture Trip

When Henry Roth published Call It Sleep, his first novel, in 1934, it was greeted with critical acclaim. But in that dark Depression year, books were hard to sell, and the novel quickly dropped out of sight, as did its twenty-eight-year-old author. Only with its paperback publication in 1964 did the novel receive the recognition it deserves. Call It Sleep was the first paperback ever to be reviewed on the front page of The New York Times Book Review, and it proceeded to sell millions of copies both in the United States and around the world. Call It Sleep is the magnificent story of David Schearl, the “dangerously imaginative” child coming of age in the slums of New York.



30 .) Dreamland written by Kevin Baker

Dreamland

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Dig Books
  • Goodreads

In a stunning work of imagination and memory, author Kevin Baker brings to mesmerizing life a vibrant, colorful, thrilling, and dangerous New York City in the earliest years of the twentieth century. A novel breathtaking in its scope and ambition, it is the epic saga of newcomers drawn to the promise of America — gangsters and laborers, hucksters and politicians, radicals, reformers, murderers, and sideshow oddities — whose stories of love, revenge, and tragedy interweave and shine in the artificial electric dazzle of a wondrous place called Dreamland.



29 .) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close written by Jonathan Safran Foer

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Business Insider
  • Goodreads

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an inventor, amateur entomologist, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweller, detective, vegan, and collector of butterflies. When his father is killed in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre, Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he discovers in his father’s closet. It is a search which leads him into the lives of strangers, through the five boroughs of New York, into history, to the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima, and on an inward journey which brings him ever closer to some kind of peace.



28 .) From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler written by E.L. Konigsburg

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Lists It Appears On:

  • Business Insider
  • Curbed
  • Goodreads

When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere — to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing her younger brother Jamie has money and thus can help her with a serious cash-flow problem, she invites him along. Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie find themselves caught up in the mystery of an angel statue that the museum purchased at auction for a bargain price of $225. The statue is possibly an early work of the Renaissance master, Michelangelo, and therefore worth millions. Is it? Or isn’t it? Claudia is determined to find out. Her quest leads her to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue, and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.



27 .) Just Kids written by Patti Smith

Just Kids

Lists It Appears On:

  • Business Insider
  • Curbed
  • Goodreads

In Just Kids, Patti Smith’s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies. An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work–from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.



26 .) Netherland written by Joseph O’Neil

Netherland

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Penguin Random House
  • The Culture Trip

In a New York City made phantasmagorical by the events of 9/11, Hans – a banker originally from the Netherlands – finds himself marooned among the strange occupants of the Chelsea Hotel after his English wife and son return to London. In a New York City made phantasmagorical by the events of 9/11, Hans–a banker originally from the Netherlands–finds himself marooned among the strange occupants of the Chelsea Hotel after his English wife and son return to London. Alone and untethered, feeling lost in the country he had come to regard as home, Hans stumbles upon the vibrant New York subculture of cricket, where he revisits his lost childhood and, thanks to a friendship with a charismatic and charming Trinidadian named Chuck Ramkissoon, begins to reconnect with his life and his adopted country. Ramkissoon, a Gatsby-like figure who is part idealist and part operator, introduces Hans to an “other” New York populated by immigrants and strivers of every race and nationality. Hans is alternately seduced and instructed by Chuck’s particular brand of naivete and chutzpah–by his ability to hold fast to a sense of American and human possibility in which Hans has come to lose faith. Netherland gives us both a flawlessly drawn picture of a little-known New York and a story of much larger, and brilliantly achieved ambition: the grand strangeness and fading promise of 21st century America from an outsider’s vantage point, and the complicated relationship between the American dream and the particular dreamers. Most immediately, though, it is the story of one man–of a marriage foundering and recuperating in its mystery and ordinariness, of the shallows and depths of male friendship, of mourning and memory. Joseph O’Neill’s prose, in its conscientiousness and beauty, involves us utterly in the struggle for meaning that governs any single life.



25 .) Passing (1929) written by Nella Larsen

Passing (1929)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Complex
  • Penguin Random House

Alternate Cover Edition can be found here. First published to critical acclaim in 1929, Passing firmly established Nella Larsen’s prominence among women writers of the Harlem Renaissance. The Modern Library is proud to present Passing — an electrifying story of two women who cross the color line in 1920s New York—together with a new Introduction by the Obie Award- winning playwright and novelist Ntozake Shange. Irene Redfield, the novel’s protagonist, is a woman with an enviable life. She and her husband, Brian, a prominent physician, share a comfortable Harlem town house with their sons. Her work arranging charity balls that gather Harlem’s elite creates a sense of purpose and respectability for Irene. But her hold on this world begins to slip the day she encounters Clare Kendry, a childhood friend with whom she had lost touch. Clare—light-skinned, beautiful, and charming—tells Irene how, after her father’s death, she left behind the black neighborhood of her adolescence and began passing for white, hiding her true identity from everyone, including her racist husband. As Clare begins inserting herself into Irene’s life, Irene is thrown into a panic, terrified of the consequences of Clare’s dangerous behavior. And when Clare witnesses the vibrancy and energy of the community she left behind, her burning desire to come back threatens to shatter her careful deception. Brilliantly plotted and elegantly written, Passing offers a gripping psychological portrait of emotional extremity.



24 .) The Beautiful and Damned written by F. Scott Fitzgerald’

The Beautiful and Damned

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Pan Macmillan
  • Penguin Random House

First published in 1922, The Beautiful and the Damned followed Fitzgerald’s impeccable debut, This Side of Paradise, thus securing his place in the tradition of great American novelists. Embellished with the author’s lyrical prose, here is the story of Harvard-educated, aspiring aesthete Anthony Patch and his beautiful wife, Gloria. As they await the inheritance of his grandfather’s fortune, their reckless marriage sways under the influence of alcohol and avarice. A devastating look at the nouveau riche, and the New York nightlife, as well as the ruinous effects of wild ambition, The Beautiful and the Damned achieved stature as one of Fitzgerald’s most accomplished novels. Its distinction as a classic endures to this day. Pocket Book’s Enriched Classics present the great works of world literature enhanced for the contemporary reader. Special features include critical perspectives, suggestions for further read, and a unique visual essay composed of period photographs that help bring every word to life.



23 .) The Bell Jar (1963) written by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar (1963)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Complex
  • Goodreads

Sylvia Plath’s shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity. Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.



22 .) The Best of Everything written by Rona Jaffe

The Best of Everything

Lists It Appears On:

  • Curbed
  • Goodreads
  • Penguin

Before Valley of the Dolls and Sex and the City–the iconic novel of ambitious career girls in New York City When it was first published in 1958, Rona Jaffe’s debut novel electrified readers who saw themselves reflected in its story of five young employees of a New York publishing company. There’s Ivy League Caroline, who dreams of graduating from the typing pool to an editor’s office, naive country girl April, who within months of hitting town reinvents herself as the woman every man wants on his arm; Gregg, the free-spirited actress with a secret yearning for domesticity. Now a classic, and as page-turning as when it first came out, The Best of Everything portrays their lives and passions with intelligence, affection and prose as sharp as a paper cut. (back cover)



21 .) The Chosen written by Chaim Potok

The Chosen

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Business Insider
  • Goodreads

It is the now-classic story of two fathers and two sons and the pressures on all of them to pursue the religion they share in the way that is best suited to each. And as the boys grow into young men, they discover in the other a lost spiritual brother, and a link to an unexplored world that neither had ever considered before. In effect, they exchange places, and find the peace that neither will ever retreat from again. . . .



20 .) The Gods of Gotham (Timothy Wilde, #1) written by Lyndsay Faye

The Gods of Gotham (Timothy Wilde, #1)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Dig Books
  • Goodreads

Almost fifty years ago, a classic was born. A searing portrayal of the Mafia underworld, The Godfather introduced readers to the first family of American crime fiction, the Corleones, and their powerful legacy of tradition, blood, and honor. The seduction of power, the pitfalls of greed, and the allegiance to family—these are the themes that have resonated with millions of readers around the world and made The Godfather the definitive novel of the violent subculture that, steeped in intrigue and controversy, remains indelibly etched in our collective consciousness.



19 .) The Goldfinch written by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Goodreads
  • Penguin

It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art. As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.



18 .) The Thin Man written by Dashiell Hammett

The Thin Man

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Goodreads
  • Please Kill Me

Nick and Nora Charles are Hammett’s most enchanting creations, a rich, glamorous couple who solve homicides in between wisecracks and martinis. At once knowing and unabashedly romantic, The Thin Man is a murder mystery that doubles as a sophisticated comedy of manners.



17 .) Washington Square written by Henry James

Washington Square

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Dig Books
  • Penguin Random House

The plot of Washington Square has the simplicity of old-fashioned melodrama: a plain-looking, good-hearted young woman, the only child of a rich widower, is pursued by a charming but unscrupulous man who seeks the wealth she will presumably inherit. On this premise, Henry James constructed one of his most memorable novels, a story in which love is answered with betrayal and loyalty leads inexorably to despair.” — from the Introduction by Peter Conn In Washington Square (1880), Henry James reminisces about the New York he had known thirty years before as he tells the story of Catherine Sloper and her fortune-seeking suitor Morris Townsend. This perceptively drawn human drama is James’ most accessible work and an enduring literary triumph. Washington Square Press’ Enriched Classics present the great works of world literature enhanced for the contemporary reader. This edition of Washington Square has been prepared by Peter Conn, Andrea Mitchell Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. It includes his introduction, notes, selection of critical excerpts, and suggestions for further reading as well as a unique visual essay of period illustrations and photographs.



16 .) Ragtime (1975) written by E.L. Doctorow

Ragtime (1975)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Complex
  • Dig Books
  • Goodreads

Published in 1975, Ragtime changed our very concept of what a novel could be. An extraordinary tapestry, Ragtime captures the spirit of America in the era between the turn of the century & the First World War. The story opens in 1906 in New Rochelle, NY, at the home of an affluent American family. One lazy Sunday afternoon, the famous escape artist Harry Houdini swerves his car into a telephone pole outside their house. Almost magically, the line between fantasy & historical fact, between real & imaginary characters, disappears. Henry Ford, Emma Goldman, J.P. Morgan, Evelyn Nesbit, Sigmund Freud & Emiliano Zapata slip in & out of the tale, crossing paths with Doctorow’s imagined family & other fictional characters, including an immigrant peddler & a ragtime musician from Harlem whose insistence on a point of justice drives him to revolutionary violence.



15 .) The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987) written by Tom Wolfe

The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Business Insider
  • Complex
  • Goodreads

Sherman McCoy, the central figure of Tom Wolfe’s first novel, is a young investment banker with a fourteen-room apartment in Manhattan. When he is involved in a freak accident in the Bronx, prosecutors, politicians, the press, the police, the clergy, and assorted hustlers high and low close in on him, licking their chops and giving us a gargantuan helping of the human comedy of New York in the last years of the twentieth century, a city boiling over with racial and ethnic hostilities and burning with the itch to Grab It Now. Wolfe’s gallery ranges from Wall Street, where people in their thirties feel like small-fry if they’re not yet making a million per, to the real streets, where the aim is lower but the itch is just as virulent. We see this feverish landscape through the eyes of McCoy’s wife and his mistress; the young prosecutor for whom the McCoy case would be he answer to a prayer; the ne’er-do-well British journalist who needs such a case to save his career in America; the street-wise Irish lawyer who becomes McCoy’s only ally; and Reverend Bacon of Harlem, a master manipulator of public opinion. Above all, we see what happens when the criminal justice system-gorged with “the chow,” as the Bronx prosecutor calls the borough’s usual black and Latin felons-considers the prospect of being banded a prime cut like Sherman McCoy of Park Avenue. The Bonfire of the Vanities is a novel, but it is based on the same sort of detailed on-scene reporting as Wolfe’s great nonfiction bestsellers, The Right Stuff, Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. And it is every bit as eye-opening in its achievements. It is a big, panoramic story of the metropolis-the kind of fiction strangely absent from our literature in the second half of this century-that reinforces Tom Wolfe’s reputation as the foremost chronicler of the way we live in America. Source: http://tomwolfe.com



14 .) The Godfather written by Mario Puzo

The Godfather

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Goodreads
  • Penguin
  • Penguin Random House

Timothy Wilde tends bar near the Exchange, fantasizing about the day he has enough money to win the girl of his dreams. But when his dreams literally incinerate in a fire devastating downtown Manhattan, he finds himself disfigured, unemployed, and homeless. His older brother obtains Timothy a job in the newly minted NYPD, but he is highly skeptical of this new “police force.” And he is less than thrilled that his new beat is the notoriously down-and-out Sixth Ward – at the border of Five Points, the world’s most notorious slum.



13 .) Time and Again (Time, #1) written by Jack Finney

Time and Again (Time, #1)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Business Insider
  • Goodreads
  • Please Kill Me

Transported from the mid-twentieth century to New York City in the year 1882, Si Morley walks the fashionable “Ladies’ Mile” of Broadway, is enchanted by the jingling sleigh bells in Central Park, and solves a 20th-century mystery by discovering its 19th-century roots. Falling in love with a beautiful young woman, he ultimately finds himself forced to choose between his lives in the present and the past.



12 .) Underworld (1997) written by Don DeLillo

Underworld (1997)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Complex
  • Dig Books
  • Timeout

While Eisenstein documented the forces of totalitarianism and Stalinism upon the faces of the Russian peoples, DeLillo offers a stunning, at times overwhelming, document of the twin forces of the Cold War and American culture, compelling that “swerve from evenness” in which he finds events and people both wondrous and horrifying. Underworld opens with a breathlessly graceful prologue set during the final game of the Giants-Dodgers pennant race in 1951. Written in what DeLillo calls “super-omniscience” the sentences sweep from young Cotter Martin as he jumps the gate to the press box, soars over the radio waves, runs out to the diamond, slides in on a fast ball, pops into the stands where J. Edgar Hoover is sitting with a drunken Jackie Gleason and a splenetic Frank Sinatra, and learns of the Soviet Union’s second detonation of a nuclear bomb. It’s an absolutely thrilling literary moment. When Bobby Thomson hits Branca’s pitch into the outstretched hand of Cotter—the “shot heard around the world”—and Jackie Gleason pukes on Sinatra’s shoes, the events of the next few decades are set in motion, all threaded together by the baseball as it passes from hand to hand. “It’s all falling indelibly into the past,” writes DeLillo, a past that he carefully recalls and reconstructs with acute grace.



11 .) Invisible Man (1952) written by Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man (1952)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Complex
  • Goodreads
  • Penguin Random House
  • Timeout

First published in 1952 and immediately hailed as a masterpiece, Invisible Man is one of those rare novels that have changed the shape of American literature. For not only does Ralph Ellison’s nightmare journey across the racial divide tell unparalleled truths about the nature of bigotry and its effects on the minds of both victims and perpetrators, it gives us an entirely new model of what a novel can be. As he journeys from the Deep South to the streets and basements of Harlem, from a horrifying “battle royal” where black men are reduced to fighting animals, to a Communist rally where they are elevated to the status of trophies, Ralph Ellison’s nameless protagonist ushers readers into a parallel universe that throws our own into harsh and even hilarious relief. Suspenseful and sardonic, narrated in a voice that takes in the symphonic range of the American language, black and white, Invisible Man is one of the most audacious and dazzling novels of our century.



10 .) Jazz written by Toni Morrison

Jazz

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Dig Books
  • Penguin Random House
  • The Culture Trip
  • Timeout

In the winter of 1926, when everybody everywhere sees nothing but good things ahead, Joe Trace, middle-aged door-to-door salesman of Cleopatra beauty products, shoots his teenage lover to death. At the funeral, Joe’s wife, Violet, attacks the girl’s corpse. This passionate, profound story of love and obsession brings us back and forth in time, as a narrative is assembled from the emotions, hopes, fears, and deep realities of black urban life.



9 .) Motherless Brooklyn (1999) written by Jonathan Lethem

Motherless Brooklyn (1999)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Complex
  • Curbed
  • Goodreads
  • Penguin Random House

Lionel Essrog is Brooklyn’s very own self-appointed Human Freakshow, an orphan whose Tourettic impulses drive him to bark, count, and rip apart our language in startling and original ways. Together with three veterans of the St. Vincent’s Home for Boys, he works for small-time mobster Frank Minna’s limo service cum detective agency. Life without Frank Minna, the charismatic King of Brooklyn, would be unimaginable, so who cares if the tasks he sets them are, well, not exactly legal. But when Frank is fatally stabbed, one of Lionel’s colleagues lands in jail, the other two vie for his position, and the victim’s widow skips town. Lionel’s world is suddenly topsy-turvy, and this outcast who has trouble even conversing attempts to untangle the threads of the case while trying to keep the words straight in his head. Motherless Brooklyn is a brilliantly original homage to the classic detective novel by one of the most acclaimed writers of his generation.



8 .) Open City (2012) written by Teju Cole

Open City (2012)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Complex
  • Curbed
  • Penguin Random House
  • Timeout

Along the streets of Manhattan, a young Nigerian doctor doing his residency wanders aimlessly. The walks meet a need for Julius: they are a release from the tightly regulated mental environment of work, and they give him the opportunity to process his relationships, his recent breakup with his girlfriend, his present, his past. But it is not only a physical landscape he covers; Julius crisscrosses social territory as well, encountering people from different cultures and classes who will provide insight on his journey—which takes him to Brussels, to the Nigeria of his youth, and into the most unrecognizable facets of his own soul.



7 .) The Age of Innocence written by Edith Wharton

The Age of Innocence

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Dig Books
  • Goodreads
  • Please Kill Me
  • The Guardian

Winner of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize, The Age of Innocence is Edith Wharton’s masterful portrait of desire and betrayal during the sumptuous Golden Age of Old New York, a time when society people “dreaded scandal more than disease.” This is Newland Archer’s world as he prepares to marry the beautiful but conventional May Welland. But when the mysterious Countess Ellen Olenska returns to New York after a disastrous marriage, Archer falls deeply in love with her. Torn between duty and passion, Archer struggles to make a decision that will either courageously define his life—or mercilessly destroy it.



6 .) The Great Gatsby written by F Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Business Insider
  • Goodreads
  • Penguin
  • The Guardian

THE GREAT GATSBY, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story is of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his new love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s. The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature. (back cover)



5 .) American Psycho (1991) written by Bret Easton Ellis

American Psycho (1991)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Complex
  • Goodreads
  • Pan Macmillan
  • Qwiklit
  • Timeout

Patrick Bateman is twenty-six and he works on Wall Street, he is handsome, sophisticated, charming and intelligent. He is also a psychopath. Taking us to head-on collision with America’s greatest dream—and its worst nightmare—American Psycho is bleak, bitter, black comedy about a world we all recognise but do not wish to confront.



4 .) Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958) written by Truman Capote

Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Business Insider
  • Complex
  • Curbed
  • Goodreads
  • Penguin Random House

It’s New York in the 1940s, where the martinis flow from cocktail hour till breakfast at Tiffany’s. And nice girls don’t, except, of course, Holly Golightly. Pursued by Mafia gangsters and playboy millionaires, Holly is a fragile eyeful of tawny hair and turned-up nose, a heart-breaker, a perplexer, a traveller, a tease. She is irrepressibly ‘top banana in the shock department’, and one of the shining flowers of American fiction. This edition also contains three stories: ‘House of Flowers’, ‘A Diamond Guitar’ and ‘A Christmas Memory’.



3 .) The Catcher in the Rye (1951) written by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye (1951)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Business Insider
  • Complex
  • Dig Books
  • Goodreads
  • Timeout

The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep. J.D. Salinger’s classic novel of teenage angst and rebellion was first published in 1951. The novel was included on Time’s 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923. It was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. It has been frequently challenged in the court for its liberal use of profanity and portrayal of sexuality and in the 1950’s and 60’s it was the novel that every teenage boy wants to read.



2 .) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943) written by Betty Smith

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Business Insider
  • Complex
  • Curbed
  • Dig Books
  • Goodreads
  • Timeout

The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.



1 .) The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000) written by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookriot
  • Complex
  • Curbed
  • Goodreads
  • Penguin Random House
  • The Culture Trip
  • The Guardian
  • Timeout

Joe Kavalier, a young Jewish artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America – the comic book. Drawing on their own fears and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapist, the Monitor, and Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men. With exhilarating style and grace, Michael Chabon tells an unforgettable story about American romance and possibility.




The 200+ Additional Best NY Fiction Books



# Books Authors Lists
36 A History of New York (1809)   Bookriot
Complex
37 Another Brooklyn Jacqueline Woodson Bookriot
Goodreads
38 Behold the Dreamers Imbolo Mbue Bookriot
Goodreads
39 Brooklyn Colm Tóibín Bookriot
Goodreads
40 Christadora   Curbed
Bookriot
41 City of Dreams: A Novel of Nieuw Amsterdam and Early Manhattan (Old New York, #1) Beverly Swerling Bookriot
Goodreads
42 Forever Pete Hamill Bookriot
Goodreads
43 Go Tell It on the Mountain   Bookriot
Penguin Random House
44 Last Exit to Brooklyn (1964)   Bookriot
Complex
45 Let the Great World Spin Colum McCann Bookriot
Goodreads
46 Lush Life (2008)   Bookriot
Complex
47 Modern Lovers   Bookriot
Pan Macmillan
48 My Name Is Asher Lev Chaim Potok Bookriot
Goodreads
49 Native Speaker   Bookriot
Penguin Random House
50 Rules of Civility Amor Towles Goodreads
Bookriot
51 Seize the Day Saul Bellow Bookriot
The Guardian
52 Sex and the City Candace Bushnell Goodreads
Business Insider
53 Sophie’s Choice William Styron Goodreads
Bookriot
54 Speedboat Renata Adler Bookriot
Timeout
55 The Alienist (Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, #1) Caleb Carr Bookriot
Goodreads
56 The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao Junot Díaz Bookriot
Goodreads
57 The Emperor’s Children Claire Messud Bookriot
The Guardian
58 The Fortress of Solitude Jonathan Lethem Timeout
The Guardian
59 The Golem and the Jinni Helene Wecker Bookriot
The Guardian
60 The House of Mirth (1905) Edith Wharton Goodreads
Complex
61 The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love Oscar Hijuelos Bookriot
The Culture Trip
62 The Nanny Diaries (Nanny, #1) Emma McLaughlin
Business Insider
Goodreads
63 The New York Trilogy Paul Auster Bookriot
Goodreads
64 The Next Stephanie Gangi Goodreads
Pan Macmillan
65 The Wife Between Us Greer Hendricks Goodreads
Pan Macmillan
66 Veronica (2005)  
Penguin Random House
Complex
67 Watchmen Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1987) Bookriot
Business Insider
68 Winter’s Tale Mark Helprin Goodreads
Bookriot
69 & Sons David Gilbert Goodreads
70 1876: A Novel   Bookriot
71 A Fall of Marigolds Susan Meissner Goodreads
72 A History of New York in 101 Objects   Curbed
73 A Meaningful Life (1971)   Complex
74 A Summons to Memphis Peter Taylor
The Culture Trip
75 A Walker in the City   Curbed
76 Adelle Waldman   Curbed
77 Against All Odds  
Pan Macmillan
78 Alexandra Lange   Curbed
79 Amale Andraos   Curbed
80
An Architectural Guidebook to Brooklyn
  Curbed
81 An Innocent Fashion  
Used York City
82 Are You Sleeping  
Pan Macmillan
83 Asad Syrkett   Curbed
84 Ashes of Fiery Weather   Bookriot
85 Astor Place Vintage Stephanie Lehmann Goodreads
86 Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade (Auntie Mame #1) Patrick Dennis Goodreads
87 Bang the Drum Slowly (1956)   Complex
88 Ben Kabak   Curbed
89 Billy Bathgate   Bookriot
90 Bleeding Edge Thomas Pynchon
The Culture Trip
91 Blue Seafood Bar   Timeout
92 Books For Living  
Used York City
93 Boomer1 Daniel Torday Goodreads
94 Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness Susannah Cahalan Goodreads
95 Bread Givers   Bookriot
96 Brian Lehrer   Curbed
97 Brown Girl, Brownstones   Bookriot
98 Burr Gore Vidal Goodreads
99 City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1) Cassandra Clare Goodreads
100 City of Glory: A Novel of War and Desire in Old Manhattan (Old New York, #2) Beverly Swerling Goodreads
101 City of Night (1963)   Complex
102 Colm Tóibín Bro0klyn Qwiklit
103 Colum McCann Let the Great World Spin Qwiklit
104 Cosmopolis Don DeLillo
The Culture Trip
105 Daddy Was a Number Runner   Bookriot
106 Dan Doctoroff   Curbed
107 David Rockwell   Curbed
108 Delirious New York   Curbed
109 Détour par First Avenue Myrtelle Devilmé Goodreads
110 Dissident Gardens   Bookriot
111 Dividers Travis Adams Irish Goodreads
112 Don Delillo Cosmopolis Qwiklit
113 Down These Mean Streets  
Penguin Random House
114 E.L. Doctorow Ragtime Qwiklit
115 Edith Wharton The Age of Innocence Qwiklit
116 Elizabeth Street Laurie Fabiano Goodreads
117 Eloise   Curbed
118 Enemies, A Love Story Isaac Bashevis Singer
The Culture Trip
119 Fake Plastic Love  
Used York City
120 Fates and Furies   Bookriot
121 Fear of Flying Erica Jong Goodreads
122 Fever   Bookriot
123 Fingerless Gloves Nick Orsini Goodreads
124 Fitness Junkie  
Used York City
125 Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries 1971–1973 Jim Carroll
Please Kill Me
126 Forgotten New York   Curbed
127 Fury   Bookriot
128 Girl in Translation   Bookriot
129 Going Down   Bookriot
130 Gotham   Curbed
131 Grace’s Pictures (Ellis Island #1) Cindy Thomson Goodreads
132 Great Expectations Kathy Acker
Please Kill Me
133 Great Jones Street  
Penguin Random House
134 Greater Gotham   Curbed
135 Guys and Dolls and Other Stories Damon Runyon
The Guardian
136 Half-Resurrection Blues   Bookriot
137 Happiness Ltd. Michael McGhee Goodreads
138 Harriet the Spy   Curbed
139 Henry James Washington Square Qwiklit
140 Henry Miller Tropic of Capricorn Qwiklit
141 Henry Roth Call it Sleep Qwiklit
142 Here Is New York   Curbed
143 Heyday   Bookriot
144 House of Mirth   Dig Books
145
How the García Girls Lost Their Accents
  Bookriot
146 Hubert Selby Jr. Last Exit to Brooklyn Qwiklit
147 I Can’t Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street Matt Taibbi Goodreads
148 I’ll Drink to That  
Penguin Random House
149 Inferno (A Poet’s Novel) Eileen Myles
Please Kill Me
150 It’s Kind of a Funny Story   Bookriot
151 Ivan and Misha: A Novel in Stories Michael Alenyikov Goodreads
152
Janette Sadik-Khan and Seth Solomonow
  Curbed
153 JD Salinger The Catcher in the Rye Qwiklit
154 Jeremiah Moss   Curbed
155 Jezebel Koko Brown Goodreads
156 Julia Wertz   Curbed
157 Justin Davidson   Curbed
158
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City
  Curbed
159 Latin Moon in Manhattan Jaime Manrique
Please Kill Me
160 Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk Kathleen Rooney Goodreads
161 Little Deaths  
Pan Macmillan
162 Low Life   Curbed
163 Lowboy   Bookriot
164 Lucy   Bookriot
165 Lunch Poems Frank O’Hara (1964)
Business Insider
166 M Train  
Penguin Random House
167 Mad Dog House Mark Rubinstein Goodreads
168 Maggie, a Girl of the Streets   Bookriot
169 Magnetic City   Curbed
170 Manhattan Affair Jack Sussek Goodreads
171 Manhattan Transfer   Bookriot
172 Marjorie Morningstar   Bookriot
173 Mark Gardner,   Curbed
174 Mastodon Farm Mike Kleine Goodreads
175 Midnight Cowboy James Leo Herlihy Goodreads
176 Money  
Penguin Random House
177 My Beloved World  
Penguin Random House
178 My Sister’s Keeper Jodi Picoult Goodreads
179 Nadine Maleh   Curbed
180 Nathan Kensinger   Curbed
181 Near the Hope Jennifer Davis Carey Goodreads
182 Nevada   Bookriot
183 Never Built New York   Curbed
184 New York Edward Rutherfurd Goodreads
185 New York 2140   Curbed
186
New York City Transit Authority: Objects
  Curbed
187 Nonstop Metropolis   Curbed
188 Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Ludwig Bemelmans
Please Kill Me
189 Paradise Alley (City of Fire #2) Kevin Baker Goodreads
190 Paul Auster The New York Trilogy Qwiklit
191 Paul Goldberger   Curbed
192 Playground of My Mind   Curbed
193 Preparation for the Next Life   Bookriot
194 Push   Bookriot
195 Random Acts of Senseless Violence Jack Womack
The Guardian
196 Re Jane   Bookriot
197 Rich and Pretty   Bookriot
198 Rick Cook   Curbed
199 Rosemary’s Baby (Rosemary’s Baby, #1) Ira Levin Goodreads
200 Roz Chast   Curbed
201 Rumaan Alam   Curbed
202
Sex Wars: A Novel of Gilded Age New York
  Bookriot
203 She Walks in Beauty Siri Mitchell Goodreads
204 Shopaholic Takes Manhattan (Shopaholic, #2) Sophie Kinsella Goodreads
205 Sima’s Undergarments for Women   Bookriot
206 Sister Carrie Theodore Dreiser Goodreads
207 Skinny Legs and All   Bookriot
208 Small Mercies   Bookriot
209 So Little Time   Curbed
210 Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You Peter Cameron Goodreads
211 Something Borrowed (Darcy & Rachel, #1) Emily Giffin Goodreads
212 Split Thirty Michael Davidow Goodreads
213
Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York
  Curbed
214
Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution
  Curbed
215 Stuart Little   Curbed
216 Sweetbitter  
Pan Macmillan
217 Tama Janowitz A Certain Age Qwiklit
218 The AIA Guide to New York City   Curbed
219 The Ask   Bookriot
220 The Assistant   Bookriot
221 The Ballad of Black Tom   Bookriot
222 The Big Clock Kenneth Fearing
The Culture Trip
223
The Bowery Boys: Adventures in Old New York
  Curbed
224 The Brooklyn Follies Paul Auster Goodreads
225 The Chaperone Laura Moriarty Goodreads
226 The Colossus of New York   Curbed
227 The Cricket in Times Square George Selden Goodreads
228
The Death and Life of Great American Cities
  Curbed
229 The Devil Wears Prada   Bookriot
230 The Diviners (The Diviners, #1) Libba Bray Goodreads
231 The Dollhouse  
Used York City
232 The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower, #2) Stephen King Goodreads
233 The Easter Parade (1976)   Complex
234 The Encyclopedia of New York City   Curbed
235 The Ex   Bookriot
236 The Flamethrowers Rachel Kushner
The Culture Trip
237 The Futures   Penguin
238 The Good Life Jay McInerney Goodreads
239
The Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant Cookbook
  Curbed
240 The Great Bridge   Curbed
241
The Great Negro Plot: A Tale of Conspiracy and Murder in Eighteenth-Century New York
  Bookriot
242 The Group   Curbed
243 The Hot Rock (Dortmunder, #1) Donald E. Westlake Goodreads
244 The Interestings   Bookriot
245 The Intuitionist Colson Whitehead
The Culture Trip
246 The Island at the Center of the World   Curbed
247 The Long-Winded Lady   Curbed
248 The Museum of Extraordinary Things Alice Hoffman Goodreads
249 The New York Nobody Knows   Curbed
250
The Odd Woman and the City: A Memoir
  Curbed
251 The Only Harmless Great Thing Brooke Bolander Goodreads
252 The Other Islands of New York City   Curbed
253 The Pink Suit Nicole Mary Kelby Goodreads
254 The Portable Jack Kerouac Jack Kerouac Goodreads
255 The Power Broker   Curbed
256 The Prince of West End Avenue   Bookriot
257 The Serialist David Gordon
Please Kill Me
258 The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook Deb Perelman Goodreads
259 The Street   Bookriot
260 The Swans of Fifth Avenue Melanie Benjamin Goodreads
261 The Thieves of Manhattan   Bookriot
262 The Unpossessed   Bookriot
263 The Unwitting  
Pan Macmillan
264 The Virgin Cure Ami McKay Goodreads
265 The Warmest December   Bookriot
266 The Whiskey Rebels David Liss Goodreads
267 The Woman in the Window A.J. Finn Goodreads
268 The Works   Curbed
269 This Side of Paradise F. Scott Fitzgerald Goodreads
270 Thoughts without Cigarettes  
Penguin Random House
271 Three Novels of New York  
Penguin Random House
272 To Rise Again at a Decent Hour Joshua Ferris Goodreads
273 Toni Morrison Jazz Qwiklit
274 Torture to Her Soul (Monster in His Eyes, #2) J.M. Darhower Goodreads
275 Unwifeable: A Memoir Mandy Stadtmiller Goodreads
276 Up in the Old Hotel   Curbed
277 Valley of the Dolls   Bookriot
278
Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost its Soul
  Curbed
279 Weird Fucks Lynne Tillman
Please Kill Me
280 When You Reach Me   Curbed
281 Yolande Daniels   Curbed
282 You (You, #1) Caroline Kepnes Goodreads
283 Zone One   Bookriot


15 Best Fiction/Literature New York Book Sources/Lists



Source Article
Bookriot 100 Must-Read New York City Novels
Business Insider Best Novels That Take Place In New York
Complex The 25 Best New York City Novels
Curbed Best books about New York: 50 essential NYC books
Dig Books Top 10 Fiction Books Set in New York City
Goodreads Best Books Set in New York City
Pan Macmillan Fiction Ten great books set in New York City
Penguin Anna Pitoniak’s five favourite novels about New York City
Penguin Random House 31 Must-Read New York City Books
Please Kill Me TEN GREAT NEW YORK CITY NOVELS
Qwiklit Fifteen Essential Novels About New York City
The Culture Trip 12 Must-Read Books Set in Manhattan
The Guardian Top 10 New York novels
Timeout Best books about NYC from classic novels to new fiction
Used York City 5 Books Set In NYC You’ll Absolutely Love

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