A master storyteller’s novel of crime, corruption, and antisemitism in early 20th-century Manhattan
Ravage & Son reflects the lost world of Manhattan’s Lower East Side—the cradle of Jewish immigration during the first years of the twentieth century—in a dark mirror.
Abraham Cahan, editor of the Jewish Daily Forward, serves as the conscience of the Jewish ghetto teeming with rogue cops and swindlers. He rescues Ben Ravage, an orphan, from a trade school and sends him off to Harvard to earn a law degree. But upon his return, Ben rejects the chance to escape his gritty origins and instead becomes a detective for the Kehilla, a quixotic gang backed by wealthy uptown patrons to help the police rid the Lower East Side of criminals. Charged with rooting out the Jewish “Mr. Hyde,” a half-mad villain who attacks the prostitutes of Allen Street, Ben discovers that his fate is irrevocably tied to that of this violent, sinister man.
A lurid tale of revenge, this wildly evocative, suspenseful noir is vintage Jerome Charyn.
Jerome Charyn is the author of more than fifty works of fiction and nonfiction, including Ravage & Son; Sergeant Salinger; Cesare: A Novel of War-Torn Berlin; In the Shadow of King Saul: Essays on Silence and Song; Jerzy: A Novel; and A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century. Among other honors, his work has been longlisted for the Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award and PEN Award for Biography, shortlisted for the Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Award, and selected as a finalist for the Firecracker Award and PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Charyn has also been named a Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture and received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New York.
Praise for Ravage & Son
“[Charyn’s] storytelling is off-the-chart wonderful.” —Jerusalem Post
“Evoke[s] the Shakespearean Lower East Side. . . . The prose of this novel pulsates in a relentless torrent.” —New York Sun
“Complex and captivating. . . . The noir style of this novel shows Jerome Charyn at his best.” —Jewish Book Council
“An epic work of historical fiction. . . . The novel is part Jekyll and Hyde, part crime noir, part mystery novel, and ultimately an instant classic—a cinematic kaleidoscope that captures humanity’s intense beauty and utter debauchery.” —PopMatters
“Both social commentary and a whodunit . . . [Charyn] tells a story about social issues relevant today including LGBT shame, class struggle, immigration standards, antisemitism, and balanced journalism. His talent at blending history with fiction results in a magnificent portrait of the darker side of society.” —On the Seawall
“Charyn is an institution. . . . His skill is such that it’s difficult to separate the real-world figures and entities from the characters and places the author is inventing.” —Washington Independent Review of Books
“With biting humor and fierce tenderness, Jerome Charyn builds the world of Manhattan’s Lower East Side Jewish ghetto from 1883 onward, rife with crime, passion, and the competition of shrewd businessmen and immigrant gangs.” —Historical Novels Reviews
“Rollicking. . . . Ravage & Son brings New York City’s criminal underground to vibrant life.” —Foreword Reviews
“Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights has nothing on Charyn’s Lower East Side.” —Kirkus Reviews
Select Praise for Jerome Charyn
“Jerome Charyn, like Nabokov, is that most fiendish sort of writer—so seductive as to beg imitation, so singular as to make imitation impossible.” —Tom Bissell
“Charyn is one of the most important writers in American literature.” —Michael Chabon
“Charyn is a one off: no other living American writer crafts novels with his vibrancy of historical imagination.” —William Giraldi
“[Charyn’s] sentences are pure vernacular music, his voice unmistakable.” —Jonathan Lethem
“One of our most rewarding novelists.” —Larry McMurtry
“Among Charyn’s writerly gifts is a dazzling energy―a highly inflected rapid-fire prose that pulls us along like a pony cart over rough terrain.” —Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books
“Charyn skillfully breathes life into historical icons.” —New Yorker
“One of our most intriguing fiction writers.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
“Absolutely unique among American writers.” —Los Angeles Times
“A contemporary American Balzac.” —Newsday
“Charyn’s blunt, brilliantly crafted prose bubbles with the pleasure of nailing life to the page in just the right words.” —Washington Post
“[Charyn] writes with the sort of whirlwind energy that turns the seediest story into a breakneck adventure.” —Wall Street Journal
“Charyn has a gift for the unexpected, both linguistically and narratively. . . . The result is at once surprising and very entertaining.” —BookPage
“For half a century, [Charyn] has been an unpredictable, unclassifiable, and above all exactingly smart author.” —Open Letters Review
“Charyn, as he has proven time and time again, is a master of the written word.” —Jewish Journal