Reviews and praise for CITY OF STRANGERS

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Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune:

‘CITY OF STRANGERS, the excellent new novel by Ian MacKenzie . . . possesses a relentless, straight-ahead momentum, a powerful surge of pure storytelling oomph — and then it stops dead in its tracks, at which point one of the protagonists muses briefly about something that’s needling him. The whole world seems to pause and listen, because the thoughts are so rich, so right . . . Most memorable about CITY OF STRANGERS . . . is its hectic urban rhythm, the shock and clatter of New York at ground level, as rendered by MacKenzie’s prose. The stop-and-start syncopation of his chapters turns the entire novel into its own mini-city, complete with violence and beauty, sorrow and wisdom, chaos and clarity.’

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Publishers Weekly (Starred review):

‘A novel as grim as it is extraordinary . . . MacKenzie sets up a New York rampant with alienation and misunderstanding, and his visceral narrative, powered by taut prose and braced with sturdy philosophical and psychological underpinnings, is a winner.’

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David Abrams, B & N Review:

‘CITY OF STRANGERS is a debut impressive not only for the rich, evocative language of its sentences but also for the way the author charts the troubled path of his alienated characters across the cityscape . . . in a novel that is one part Albert Camus, one part Philip Roth, and one part Martin Scorsese. . . . [V]iolence – both physical and psychological – is a force that’s impossible to resist in the unstable world of this bleak, beautiful novel.’

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Betsy Willeford, The Star-Ledger (New Jersey):

‘[A first novel] worth your attention . . . Paul [Metzger] trudges through the wintry gray New York City days like one of those Graham Greene innocent Americans who get themselves destroyed for inchoate causes. . . . There’s no escaping the past or the present. Ian MacKenzie’s novel is simultaneously lyric and chilling.’

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Brad Watson, author of The Heaven of Mercury and Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives:

‘Like Camus’ masterpiece The Stranger, Ian MacKenzie’s brilliant, moody, and ultimately shocking novel insinuates into the reader’s mind a palpable sense of existential horror. The steady, inexorable ruin of Paul Metzger questions the nature of innocence and guilt, the possibility of redemption, and the degree to which we are able to salvage our humanity in a world that offers so many opportunities for its denial. Without a doubt, MacKenzie is an important new American writer.’

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Stewart O’Nan, author of Songs for the Missing and A Prayer for the Dying:

‘The New York of CITY OF STRANGERS is a lonely, violent place, shadowed by failure and the sins of the past, yet this is no simple neo-noir. There’s depth and extension to the world Ian MacKenzie creates for his hero, and brilliant writing on every page. It’s hard to believe this is a debut – and that much more exciting.’

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Uzodinma Iweala, author of Beasts of No Nation:

‘In CITY OF STRANGERS, Ian MacKenzie tells, in direct, beautiful, and convincing language, a story that examines the surface tensions and deeper sources of pressure in today’s uncertain world. CITY OF STRANGERS exhibits a maturity well beyond the writer’s years. He is a talent to watch.’

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Sarah Weinman (Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind), Pick of the Week:

‘MacKenzie’s debut novel reminded me a lot of Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy . . . MacKenzie straddles the line between thriller and internal examination of a man’s failings, and his ability to do so establishes him as a young writer of serious talent and future.’

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Stan Hynds, Book Buyer, Northshire Books (Manchester Center, VT):

‘Nothing about this complex and riveting novel tips the reader to the fact that it is a first novel by an author not yet 30. MacKenzie’s ideas suggest experience and depth and the writing is solidly assured. . . . Readers who loved Ian McEwan‘s Saturday should snap up this terrific novel.’

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‘We already have plenty of post-9/11 New York novels, but MacKenzie manages to accomplish something new. The confusion of the era is ever-present, but MacKenzie does not settle for this as his subject.’


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