“Stunning . . . A beautiful, sprawling, and generous book. Jansma is a brilliantly talented writer, but he also has a unique insight into what friends mean to one another, and what it means to be part of a city in which you never quite belong, but can’t quite bring yourself to leave. It’s a heartfelt novel, tender and painful and cathartic all at once, and even if the characters belong to New York, the story belongs to us all.” —NPR
December, 2008. A heavy snowstorm is blowing through Manhattan and the economy is on the brink of collapse, but none of that matters to a handful of guests at a posh holiday party. Five years after their college graduation, the fiercely devoted friends at the heart of this richly absorbing novel remain as inseparable as ever: editor and social butterfly Sara Sherman, her troubled astronomer boyfriend George Murphy, loudmouth poet Jacob Blaumann, classics major turned investment banker William Cho, and Irene Richmond, an enchanting artist with an inscrutable past.
Amid cheerful revelry and free-flowing champagne, the friends toast themselves and the new year ahead—a year that holds many surprises in store. They must navigate ever-shifting relationships with the city and with one another, determined to push onward in pursuit of their precarious dreams. And when a devastating blow brings their momentum to a halt, the group is forced to reexamine their aspirations and chart new paths through unexpected losses.
Kristopher Jansma’s award-winning debut novel, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, was praised for its “wry humor” and “charmingly unreliable narrator” in The New Yorker and hailed as “F. Scott Fitzgerald meets Wes Anderson” by The Village Voice. In Why We Came to the City, Jansma offers an unforgettable exploration of friendships forged in the fires of ambition, passion, hope, and love. This glittering story of a generation coming of age is a sweeping, poignant triumph.
About the Author
Kristopher Jansma is the author of The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, winner of the Sherwood Anderson Foundation Fiction Award. A graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program, he is now an assistant professor of English and creative writing at SUNY New Paltz and a graduate lecturer in fiction at Sarah Lawrence College. He has written for the New York Times, Salon, The Believer, The Millions, Slice, BOMB, and Electric Literature. He lives with his wife and son in Brooklyn, New York.
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Excerpted from "Why We Came to the City"
Copyright © 2016 Kristopher Jansma.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Original review @ 125Pages.ocm I don’t know if I have ever wanted a book to end after part one as much as I did with Why We Came to the City. After struggling a bit with chapter one, as characters were introduced at a rapid pace and it took me a bit to figure out who they all were. Once I was settled into the players and their stories I was engrossed. I felt with them and loved with them and grieved with them. I thought the end of the first part was perfection and would have been quite content for it to end there. When I turned the (virtual) page and realized the book was still going, I was a little pissed. Why continue? It ended so well. But I needed to finish and it took a bit, but I melded back into the story again. And I’m glad I did. The true ending was very well thought out and did bring some needed closure. Kristopher Jansma created a very real and vivid world in Why We Came to the City. The settings matched the story well and enhanced the scenes. The plot was well thought out. Each point fed into the next and created a well blended story. The writing was nuanced and had a fine hue. Jansma has a distinctive voice and he used it to full advantage. The characters all played well within the tale; some were stronger and created a driving force the others rotated around. The emotions were high. It would be hard to craft a tale around a dying young woman without an emotional heft and Why We Came to the City had it. I did truly enjoy Why We Came to the City, even if I wanted it to end early. I always try to respect the author’s vision but sometimes struggle with how I picture the ending. I am glad it ended the way it did, as it tied everything up nicely. I have also heard great things about Jansma’s first book The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, so I will have to see if my library has it. So if you are looking for a tale of enduring friendship with a lot of heart pick up a copy of Why We Came to the City. I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review