The Five Books of (Robert) Moses

Arthur Nersesian (Author)
Pre-Order   Ships Jul 28, 2020


"A postmodern masterwork that outdoes Pynchon in eccentricity--and electricity, with all its dazzling prose."
--Kirkus Reviews, Starred review

"Mr. Nersesian's work is a tale of extremes. The finished product weighs more than 4 pounds. If he stacked all his manuscript pages since he began the book back in 1993 it would stand 6 feet tall, a shade taller than himself, Mr. Nersesian says...Main characters include a fictionalized Robert Moses, the powerful public official who reshaped New York City and its environs, and his brother Paul, an electrical engineer. A difficult relationship between the two has dire consequences. There are also pop-culture favorites from the period, including psychedelic evangelist Timothy Leary; urbanologist Jane Jacobs, and poet Allen Ginsberg. All are intended to show readers how the value of culture erodes in an isolated world."
--Wall Street Journal

"Nersesian is one of my favorite New York authors; this tome is one to lose yourself in."
--Bob Odenkirk, actor, Breaking Bad

"The unquestioned authority of Robert Moses is difficult to fully grasp today--this unimaginable, outsized character whose outrageous deeds seem the stuff of novels. And that is how Nersesian is tackling him, by blending fact with fiction. Historical events and persons are interwoven with a fascinating apocalyptic story and literary license, at last revealing the tumultuous life and legacy of Robert Moses. Faced with such a daunting subject matter...Nersesian's narrative is masterful."
--Brooklyn Eagle

"Imagine Kurt Vonnegut channeling the Book of Revelations and transmitting it to the faithful of a postcataclysmic New York City and you get a glimpse of the monumental literary feat Arthur Nersesian has accomplished...It is imaginative, frightening, and hilarious, often all at the same time."
--Michael Imperioli, author of The Perfume Burned His Eyes

After a domestic terrorist unleashes a dirty bomb in Manhattan in 1970, making the borough uninhabitable, FBI agent Uli Sarkisian finds himself in a world that is suddenly unrecognizable as the United States is faced with its greatest immigration crisis ever: finding housing for millions of its own citizens. The federal government hastily retrofits an abandoned military installation in the Nevada desert, vast in size. Despite the government's best intentions, as the military pulls out of "Rescue City," the residents are increasingly left to their own devices, and tribal warfare fuses with democracy, forming a frightening evolution of the two-party system: the gangocracy. Years after the Manhattan cleanup was supposed to have been finished, Uli travels through this bizarre new New York City, where he is forced to reckon with his past, while desperately trying to get out alive.

The Five Books of (Robert) Moses alternates between the outrageous present of Rescue City and earlier in the twentieth century, detailing the events leading up to the destruction of Manhattan. We simultaneously follow legendary urban planner Robert Moses through his early years and are introduced to his equally ambitious older brother Paul, a brilliant electrical engineer whose jealousy toward Robert and anger at the devastation caused by the man's "urban renewal" projects lead to a dire outcome.

Arthur Nersesian's most important work to date examines the political chaos of today's world through the lens of the past. Fictional versions of real historical figures populate the pages, from major politicians and downtown drag queens to notorious revolutionaries and obscure poets.

Product Details

$44.95  $40.46
Akashic Books
Publish Date
July 28, 2020
6.3 X 2.68 X 9.21 inches | 4.3 pounds
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About the Author

ARTHUR NERSESIAN is the author of fourteen books, including the cult-classic national best seller The Fuck-Up (more than 100,000 copies sold), Suicide Casanova, Manhattan Loverboy, East Village Tetralogy, and Mesopotamia. He is a native New Yorker who runs a writing workshop in the East Village and can be reached on Facebook.


"Arthur Nersesian's fantastical magnum opus is both a love song to the vibrant culture of 'old' New York City and a cautionary commentary on the rampant political opportunism of the twenty-first century. As meticulously plotted as the best Stephen King novels, with world-building that might arouse jealousy in Philip K. Dick, The Five Books of (Robert) Moses shows us why Nersesian has established himself as one of New York City's most vital chroniclers."
--T Cooper, author of Real Man Adventures and the Changers YA series

Critical praise for the previous novels of Arthur Nersesian:

For The Fuck-Up:

"The charm and grit of Nersesian's voice is immediately enveloping, as the down-and-out but oddly up narrator of his terrific novel, The Fuck-Up, slinks through Alphabet City and guttural utterances of love."
--Village Voice

"For those who remember that the '80s were as much about destitute grit as they were about the decadent glitz described in the novels of Bret Easton Ellis and Jay McInerney, this book will come as a fast-paced reminder."
--Time Out New York

For Unlubricated:

"Nersesian is a first-rate observer of his native New York."
--Publishers Weekly

"Reading Unlubricated can make you feel like a commuter catapulting herself down the stairs to squeeze onto the A train before the doors close...In his paean to the perplexities of dislocation and discovery--both in bohemian life and in life at large--Nersesian makes us eager to see what happens when the curtain finally rises."
--New York Times Book Review

For Chinese Takeout:

"Not since Henry Miller has a writer so successfully captured the...tribulations of a struggling artist...A masterly image."
--Library Journal (starred review)

"One of the best books I've read about the artist's life. Nersesian captures the obsession one needs to keep going under tough odds...trying to stay true to himself, and his struggle against the odds makes for a compelling read."
--Village Voice

"Thoroughly validates Nersesian's rep as one of the wittiest and most perceptive chroniclers of downtown life."
--Time Out New York

For Suicide Casanova:

"Every budding author should read this book. Stop your creative writing class on the technique of Hemingway and study the elegant gritty prose of Nersesian. Stop your literary theory class on Faulkner and read the next generation of literary genius."
--Cherry Bleeds

"Sick, depraved, and heartbreaking--in other words, a great read, a great book."
--Jonathan Ames, author of The Extra Man

For Dogrun:

"Darkly comic...It's Nersesian's love affair with lower Manhattan that sets these pages afire."
--Entertainment Weekly

For Manhattan Loverboy:

"Best Book for the Beach, Summer 2000."

"Best Indie Novel of the year."
--Montreal Mirror

"Nersesian renders Gotham's unique cocktail of wealth, poverty, crime, glamour, and brutality spectacularly."
--Rain Taxi Review of Books

"Manhattan Loverboy sits somewhere between Kafka, DeLillo, and Lovecraft--a terribly frightening, funny, and all too possible place."
--Literary Review of Canada

For Mesopotamia:

"Nersesian easily captures the quirks of Tennessee, from sweet mom-and-pop storefronts to dingy, cluttered trailer parks; he sounds eager to stretch those regional muscles, after eight novels set in caustic New York...Mesopotamia is a solid, absurdist mystery. It's a vacation from the cosmopolitan, for both its heroine and its author--and, just like the tabloids it skewers, a sensationalist retreat for the reader."
--Village Voice

"This wild and wildly entertaining novel [is] a satirical thriller with a tabloid touch that revels in the low-rent colorfulness of its characters."
--Library Journal

"The immortal shadow of Elvis Presley gyrates wildly through this satiric exploration of America's fascination with tabloid journalism."
--Publishers Weekly

"Thoroughly entertaining...A quirky, hard-edged, slightly absurdist thriller from a writer who definitely bears watching."