You don’t need me to tell you that Richard Price’s Lush Life is a great novel; Michael Chabon tells you all about it here. But it’s maybe worth further mentioning the way Price steeps his novel in the history of the Lower East Side. It echoes with names significant to a historian of the early 1900s: Riis, Cahan, Lemlich. They’re the names of people who tried to help the working people and immigrants of New York City: Riis who Theodore Roosevelt claimed inspired him to progressivism, Cahan who tried to invent an American Jewish socialism, Lemlich who organized the shirtwaist workers (except, notably, at Triangle).

Their New York has become the ruined foundation to Price’s punningly titled novelistic landscape of collapsed and desanctified synagogues, of basement hearths once home to aspiring immigrants, now witness to drug deals and thefts and the moral collapse of protagonist Eric Cash.

Also, if you like the major theme of The Wire—what corrupt institutions do to the individuals asked to persevere within them—then this is a good book for you. Go, read.