Heart of the City: Nine Stories of Love and Serendipity on the Streets of New Yorkby Ariel Sabar
The lost Filipino tourist who boards a lonely A-Train at midnight and asks a fellow passengera Brooklyn Web editorthe way to Chinatown. The dirt-poor sailor from Texas who buys dinner for a homeless woman in Central Park. The small-town Minnesota college girl who asks an NYPD street cop for restaurant advice. The divorcée whose search for her roots… See more details below
The lost Filipino tourist who boards a lonely A-Train at midnight and asks a fellow passengera Brooklyn Web editorthe way to Chinatown. The dirt-poor sailor from Texas who buys dinner for a homeless woman in Central Park. The small-town Minnesota college girl who asks an NYPD street cop for restaurant advice. The divorcée whose search for her roots finds her on a ferry to the Statue of Liberty, seated beside a much younger man, who uncannily resembles her father.
Two strangers in Manhattan. A chance encounter in public. And, eventually, a marriage.
Heart of the City is Sabar’s re-creation of nine unlikely love storiesfrom the 1940s to the presentthat will alter the way we look at New York’s best-known public spaces.
Inspired by his own parents’ Manhattan love story (featured in My Father’s Paradise) and the result of a dogged, far-reaching search for ordinary couples with extraordinary stories, Heart of the City is a paean to the physical city as matchmaker.
“Love stories and urban studies merge in these… cozy, seductive narratives.”
Elle, February 2011
“If you’ve ever felt romantic upon seeing the Chrysler Building at dusk or excited instead of skeeved out by the rush of humanity in Times Square, you’re not alone; environmental psychologists do too. As does journalist Ariel Sabar in Heart of the City. He not only reports on the science of attraction in man-made environments…but also, more compellingly, offers true stories as evidence that the answers are yes and yes…All these tales have a similarly happy ending…but if this book’s clever packaging makes its joy seem somewhat mechanical, well, joy is worth having no matter how or where it’s found.”
Town & Country, February 2011
“Ask anyone from Woody Allen to Carrie Bradsaw: there’s no love story quite like a New York love story. In Heart of the City Ariel Sabar tells nine true—and very moving—stories of people who met in the Big Apple.”
BookPage, February 2011
“Sabar’s thoroughly engaging Heart of the City profiles nine couples who met at famous New York City public spaces…Sabar has teased out each of these couples’ magnificent, ordinary stories and compiled them into a sparkling love letter to the city.”
Publishers Weekly, 1/17/11
“Inspired by his parents' story of meeting in Washington Square Park, National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Sabar looks at the ‘environmental psychology’ of New York City's iconic public spaces…The strength of this effort lies in its sweetness.”
"With each story I felt like I was watching a mini movie. I couldn't put the book down, which led to many late nights...This collection affirmed my belief that people can find true love in life if they keep their eyes open.”
Quirky Geeky Scribbles, 1/17/11
“If you like true stories and especially if you love New York: this is a must read.”
New York Journal of Books,2/14/11
“[A] delightful collection of essays (stories, really) that recount initial contacts in notable landmarks of America’s most famous city, all of which resulted in marriage… richer we are, simply because 18 people happened to be in the right place at exactly the right time—and a writer had enough curiosity, and foresight, to capture their stories.”
St. Petersburg Times, 2/6/11
“Charming true stories.”
New York Times, 2/13/11
“The apparent connection between personal passion and public place inspires a beguiling romp into environmental psychology, which then leads to nine couples whose first encounter (and illuminating, sometimes bittersweet postscripts) represent an affirmation of the everyday miracle that is New York.”
New York Times, 2/17/11
“Mr. Sabar is shamelessly romantic…The results have the power to make saps out of us all.”
Toronto Star, 2/13/11
“An engaging, moving and lively read…Each of these nine stories define serendipity and provoke wonder. How can they not?”
Christian Science Monitor, 2/14/11
“The stories…are sweet and charming…Heart of the City is about what can happen when people let down their guard in a sharp-elbowed, often daunting, city, where routine contact with strangers is a fixture of public life. A random encounter can change everything.”
Providence Journal, 2/14/11
“The stories touch the heart. They are poignant, compelling, absorbing, romantic, and just flat-out sweet. Reading them, even hardened cynics will feel the urge to hug someone.”
New York Journal of Books, 2/14/11
“[A] delightful collection…Richer we are, simply because 18 people happened to be in the right place at exactly the right time—and a writer had enough curiosity, and foresight, to capture their stories.”
The Daily Mail, UK, 3/17/11 “A wonderful, life-affirming collection of romances, all the better because they’re real…What really strikes home is the sheer humour, patience and good manners of most of the men, even the modern ones. New York, New York, it sure is a wonderful.”
Brides Magazine, 3/21/11
“Each story is undeniably sweet—even the most hardcore cynic couldn't deny that this book is utterly heartwarming. Definitely an excellent choice if you're looking for some light pre-wedding (or honeymoon) reading!”
Baltimore Jewish Times, 4/15/11 “[A] heartwarming and delightful set of true love stories” and said “Ariel Sabar enchants his readers…I highly recommend this book to those who are searching for something that is both cheerful and enlightening.”
Love stories and urban studies merge in these nine examples of relationships uniquely shaped by New York City's public spaces.
National Book Critics Circle Award winner and native New Yorker Sabar (My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq, 2008) explores how life in the most densely packed urban landscape in the country impacts how people form relationships. Using interviews with real-life couples, the author attempts to illustrate how NYC's adrenaline-spiking public spaces help steer potential lovers together. Sabar fashions these oral histories into cozy, seductive narratives, admitting to a modicum of poetic license. The book's most impressive aspect is its multigenerational scope, as it features the stories of couples from the 1940s to the present. The stark contrast between the first two stories illustrates, in jarring fashion, how a postmillennial gentrified sheen has affected the city's love connections. "Green," set in the postwar '40s, finds an impoverished Navy man from Texas who befriends, and eventually marries, an even poorer woman who sleeps in Central Park. In "Collision," Sabar tells the story of privileged 21st-century 20-somethings Sophia and Matt, who wandered into their upwardly mobile Manhattan love connection. There's also the story of the couple who bonded over their mutual morbid fascination with 9/11—an NYPD officer became intimate with a North Dakotan college student who was designing a 9/11 memorial for her architecture thesis project. The couple eventually got married on 9/11. Unfortunately, the author ignores the fact that the same civic attributes that foster occasional serendipitous matchmaking can just as easily make NYC the loneliest place in the world.
The astute urban theory Sabar adroitly integrates into each chapter mostly cancels out the collection's cloying weaknesses.
- Da Capo Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Meet the Author
Ariel Sabar is an award-winning former staff writer for the Baltimore Sun and the Providence Journal. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, and Mother Jones magazine. He lives with his family in Washington, DC.
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