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The Five Books of (Robert) Moses


A dramatic, playful, brutal, sweeping, and always entertaining reimagining of New York City history, presaging today’s political tyranny.

$44.95 $33.71

What people are saying…

“A postmodern masterwork that outdoes Pynchon in eccentricity—and electricity, with all its dazzling prose.”
Kirkus Reviews, STARRED Review

“A masterwork of modern speculative adventure.”
Rain Taxi Review of Books

“Mr. Nersesian’s work is a tale of extremes. The finished product weighs more than 4 pounds. If he stacked all his manuscript pages since he began the book back in 1993 it would stand 6 feet tall, a shade taller than himself, Mr. Nersesian says . . . Main characters include a fictionalized Robert Moses, the powerful public official who reshaped New York City and its environs, and his brother Paul, an electrical engineer. A difficult relationship between the two has dire consequences. There are also pop-culture favorites from the period, including psychedelic evangelist Timothy Leary; urbanologist Jane Jacobs, and poet Allen Ginsberg. All are intended to show readers how the value of culture erodes in an isolated world.”
Wall Street Journal

“Arthur Nersesian is the Bard of Lower East Side Manhattan . . . He knows every street corner, every bar, store, book stall, and even the famous 100-year-old Russian shvitz on 10th Street. Nobody does it better. Not Don DeLillo, not Richard Price, and not William Burroughs.”
On the Seawall

“A sprawling, engrossing Pentateuch of an alternate New York City . . . Nersesian’s binge-worthy odyssey is a singularly wild ride.”
Publishers Weekly

“Nersesian is one of my favorite New York authors; this tome is one to lose yourself in.”
—Bob Odenkirk, actor, Breaking Bad

Included in Publishers Weekly‘s 2020 Holiday Gift Guide: Fiction

“The unquestioned authority of Robert Moses is difficult to fully grasp today—this unimaginable, outsized character whose outrageous deeds seem the stuff of novels. And that is how Nersesian is tackling him, by blending fact with fiction. Historical events and persons are interwoven with a fascinating apocalyptic story and literary license, at last revealing the tumultuous life and legacy of Robert Moses. Faced with such a daunting subject matter . . . Nersesian’s narrative is masterful.”
Brooklyn Eagle

“Imagine Kurt Vonnegut channeling the Book of Revelations and transmitting it to the faithful of a postcataclysmic New York City and you get a glimpse of the monumental literary feat Arthur Nersesian has accomplished . . . It is imaginative, frightening, and hilarious, often all at the same time.”
—Michael Imperioli, author of The Perfume Burned His Eyes

“Arthur Nersesian’s fantastical magnum opus is both a love song to the vibrant culture of ‘old’ New York City and a cautionary commentary on the rampant political opportunism of the twenty-first century. As meticulously plotted as the best Stephen King novels, with world-building that might arouse jealousy in Philip K. Dick, The Five Books of (Robert) Moses shows us why Nersesian has established himself as one of New York City’s most vital chroniclers.”
T Cooper, author of Real Man Adventures and the Changers YA series


After a domestic terrorist unleashes a dirty bomb in Manhattan in 1970, making the borough uninhabitable, FBI agent Uli Sarkisian finds himself in a world that is suddenly unrecognizable as the United States is faced with its greatest immigration crisis ever: finding housing for millions of its own citizens. The federal government hastily retrofits an abandoned military installation in the Nevada desert, vast in size. Despite the government’s best intentions, as the military pulls out of “Rescue City,” the residents are increasingly left to their own devices, and tribal warfare fuses with democracy, forming a frightening evolution of the two-party system: the gangocracy. Years after the Manhattan cleanup was supposed to have been finished, Uli travels through this bizarre new New York City, where he is forced to reckon with his past, while desperately trying to get out alive.

The Five Books of (Robert) Moses alternates between the outrageous present of Rescue City and earlier in the twentieth century, detailing the events leading up to the destruction of Manhattan. We simultaneously follow legendary urban planner Robert Moses through his early years and are introduced to his equally ambitious older brother Paul, a brilliant electrical engineer whose jealousy toward Robert and anger at the devastation caused by the man’s “urban renewal” projects lead to a dire outcome.

Arthur Nersesian’s most important work to date examines the political chaos of today’s world through the lens of the past. Fictional versions of real historical figures populate the pages, from major politicians and downtown drag queens to notorious revolutionaries and obscure poets.

Read features on The Five Books of (Robert) Moses at the Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly.

Listen to interviews with Arthur Nersesian on Drinks with Tony and Radio KAJW’s New Noise.

Read an interview with Arthur Nersesian at Lit Reactor.

Read a playlist by Arthur Nersesian, inspired by The Five Books of (Robert) Moses, at Largehearted Boy‘s Book Notes.

Book Details

  • Hardcover: 1510 pages
  • Published: 7/28/20
  • IBSN: 9781617754999
  • e-IBSN: 9781617758386


ARTHUR NERSESIAN is the author of fourteen books, including the cult-classic national best seller The Fuck-Up (more than 100,000 copies sold), Suicide Casanova, Manhattan Loverboy, East Village Tetralogy, and Mesopotamia. He is a native New Yorker who runs a writing workshop in the East Village and can be reached on Facebook. His latest work is The Five Books of (Robert) Moses.

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