The Edge Becomes the Center: An Oral History of Gentrification in the 21st Century

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9781468308617: The Edge Becomes the Center: An Oral History of Gentrification in the 21st Century
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Winner of the 2015 Brooklyn Eagles Literary Prize!

The groundbreaking oral history that tells the stories of New Yorkers effecting and affected by gentrification

If you live in a city―and every year, more and more Americans do―you’ve seen firsthand how gentrification has transformed our surroundings, altering the way cities look, feel, cost, and even smell.

Over the last few years, journalists, policymakers, critics, and historians have all tried to explain just what it is that happens when new money and new residents flow into established neighborhoods, yet we’ve had very little access to the human side of the gentrification phenomenon. The Edge Becomes the Center captures the stories of the many kinds of people―brokers, buyers, sellers, renters, landlords, artists, contractors, politicians, and everyone in between―who are shaping and being shaped by the new New York City.

In this extraordinary oral history, DW Gibson takes gentrification out of the op-ed columns and textbooks and brings it to life, showing us what urban change looks and feels like by exposing us to the voices of the people living through it. Drawing on the plainspoken, casually authoritative tradition of Jane Jacobs and Studs Terkel, The Edge Becomes the Center is an inviting and essential portrait of the way we live now.

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About the Author:

DW Gibson is the author of Not Working: People Talk About Losing a Job and Finding Their Way in Today’s Changing Economy. His work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The New York Observer, The Daily Beast, BOMB, and The Caravan. Gibson serves as director of Writers Omi at Ledig House in Ghent, New York, which is part of the Omi International Arts Center. He lives in New York City with his wife and daughter.

Review:

“A noisy, tender tour of New York much in the mode of Studs Terkel...Mr. Gibson is a skilled and sensitive interlocutor with an eye for the revealing gesture...Mr. Gibson lets the city speak for itself, and it speaks with charm, swagger and heartening resilience.”
- The New York Times

“Whatever I thought of New York gentrification before reading THE EDGE BECOMES THE CENTER, it’s all up in the air now, dispersed into the dazzling, extremely intelligent, funny, expert multifarious speech of the people DW Gibson interviewed for this amazing book. Reading it has transformed my understanding of the urban experience generally, humanizing and explaining, brilliantly, what before had seemed intimidating, abstract, even monstrous. A piece of masterful human scale architecture in itself, THE EDGE BECOMES THE CENTER feels like ‘a new part of New York,’ a vital new center of the city’s perpetual conversation with itself and the world.”
- Francisco Goldman, author of The Interior Circuit: A Mexico City Chronicle

“This might be the most important city book of the year, essential reading for anyone who cares about New York, or life in the metropolis anywhere. Gibson has managed to get a diverse group of New Yorkers to open up their hearts and minds about gentrification, the defining civic issue of our time. I raced through the book, traveling with Gibson as he surfs from story to story in the great, imperiled city. A riveting, timely portrait of the greatest, richest, unfairest city in the world.”
- Suketu Mehta, author of Maximum City

“As, building by building, the ‘undiscovered’ neighborhoods of New York City are assimilated into the portfolios of hedge funds and the beneficiaries of inequality, DW Gibson captures precarious voices that might otherwise go unheard forever. This is an indispensable, enthralling work of social history.”
- Joseph O’Neill, author of The Dog and Netherland

“21st century New York, which Bill de Blasio decried as A Tale of Two Cities, has yet to reveal its Dickens. But with THE EDGE BECOMES THE CENTER, DW Gibson makes a strong claim to being its Studs Terkel. A riveting exploration of gentrification and its discontents, as told by a refreshingly panoramic chorus of voices.”
- Mark Binelli, author of Detroit City Is the Place to Be

“A generous, vigorous, and enlightening look at class and space in New York; it ought to be required reading...Gibson has found vibrant humanity in a subject that is, paradoxically, lacking in it...The Edge Becomes the Center raises critical questions about what we expect from our cities and how groups become communities. Mainly, though, it’s a joy to read, its chorus of voices a reminder of oral history’s power. Anyone who cares about the shape and gestalt of life in New York―and anyone who believes in cities as centers of culture―will come away moved.”
- The Paris Review

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