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Is City on Fire just a box set masquerading as a novel?

Garth Risk Hallberg’s epic of Seventies New York is certainly ‘cinematic’ — but it’s also wise and witty

17 October 2015

8:00 AM

17 October 2015

8:00 AM

City on Fire Garth Risk Hallberg

Cape, pp.927, £16.99, ISBN: 9780224101707

Ninety pages into the juggernaut that is City on Fire, I begin to think that this is really a box set masquerading as a novel. As such it will be great. A New York setting, a cast that’s a Noah’s Ark migrant mix (from Afro to Vietnamese), a gripping crime investigation and a historical and dramatic time-frame running from the New Year’s celebrations for the American bicentennial in 1976 to the nightmare of the 1977 New York blackout.

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