A modernist masterwork that has more in common with films than traditional novels, John Dos Passos’ Manhattan Transfer is a colourful, multi-faceted chronicle of New York in the early 1920s. This book ranks with James Joyce’s Ulysses as a powerful and often lyrical meditation on the modern city. Using experimental montage techniques borrowed from the cinema, vivid descriptions and bursts of overheard conversation, and the jumbled case histories of a picaresque cast of characters from dockside crapshooters to high-society flappers, Dos Passos constructs a brilliant impressionistic portrait of New York City as a great futuristic machine filled with motion, drama and human tragedy.
John Dos Passos (1896-1970) was born in Chicago, the son of an eminent lawyer. After graduating from Harvard he served in the US Army Medical Corps during the First World War, and dabbled in journalism before embarking on life as a writer. In 1925 he published Manhattan Transfer, his first experimental novel in what was to become his peculiar style – a mixture of fact and fiction.
With an introduction by Jay McInerney.
Penguin Books, 2000 (1925)