Image source: Newtown Literary
The first issue of Newtown Literary opens with a poem by Bob McNeil written from the perspective of the borough of Queens. From the first-person point of view, it chronicles the long history of Queens – from the time of the Matinecock to the current-day cultural hodgepodge – and sets the stage for a collection of pieces that are mostly by Queens writers or about Queens in some way.
Newtown Literary (which is named after Newtown, one of the original towns that became part of Queens) is a new publication inspired by the diversity of Queens and dedicated to sharing “fiction, creative nonfiction, essays, and poetry that go beyond entertainment and storytelling.”
Walk into any NYC bookstore, and they’ll have plenty of titles on display related to Brooklyn and Manhattan. But ask for books that take place in Queens, and you might get a blank stare. The literature covering our borough may not be marketed as aggressively, but it does exist – so we took it upon ourselves to uncover some of the novels, short story collections, and memoirs set in Queens neighborhoods. Here’s our guide; maybe you’ll find a few titles to add to your wishlist.
Forgotten Borough: Writers Come to Terms with Queens, edited by Nicole Steinberg (2011)
Nicole Steinberg grew up between Corona and Jackson Heights, and her lifelong love of Queens led her to put together this collection of contemporary stories, essays, and poems. To give you a sampling of the voices and neighborhoods found within the anthology: Julia Alvarez writes about racial integration in Jamaica Estates, Marcy Dermansky writes about going into labor while eating at Cafe Bar in Astoria, Margarita Shalina writes about watching gas tanks get blown up in Maspeth, and John Weir writes about a gay Queens College professor spending time at a pornographic movie theater in East Elmhurst.