"New Yorked" is the first novel for Staten Island native Rob Hart, and he says the book has given him a chance to share with readers his often conflicting feelings about the city he calls home.
Rob Hart's debut novel, New Yorked, is aptly named for all the experiences that can only take place in a city like ours.
Readers are given a tour on some of the city's seediest spots as main character Ash hunts for his girlfriend's killer. That quest forces him to deal with the loss of his father in the September 11th attacks, his rocky relationship with his girlfriend and his tendency toward violence.
Like Ash, Hart grew up on Staten Island.
"Growing up there, you feel like you're living in the shadow of something bigger," Hart says. "So the protagonist in the book is living in the East Village, but he grew up on Staten Island, so he has sort of has that feeling of inadequacy."
Before writing his novel, Hart worked as a writer for the Staten Island Advance. After a stint working for Brooklyn City Councilman Domenic Recchia, he settled in his current job at Mysterious Press.
"In terms of storytelling, the city just offers so many opportunities," Hart says. "I write a lot of short stories, too, and almost all of them are based in New York, because I'll see some weird little quirk."
Hart joins a growing list of up-and-coming artists and authors from Staten Island. Eddie Joyce's debut novel, Small Mercies, set on Staten Island, received acclaim. Saturday Night Live's Colin Jost penned the screenplay for "Staten Island Summer," recently released on Netflix.
"I think within the arts, there's this big swell, so that we're moving away from that image of, you know, Jersey Shore rejects and the big giant dump, and you're starting to see more things about what makes the borough interesting and diverse," Hart says.
Hart is planning to write a five-part series. The second installment is due out in February.