Last Exit to Brooklyn
Set in Brooklyn, this novel depicts life amongst the junkies, hustlers, drag queens and prostitutes living there. The story follows a number of tranvestites, criminals and prostitutes who live on the edge of existence but yearn for more meaning in their lives.
Few novels have caused as much debate as Hubert Selby Jr.’s notorious masterpiece, Last Exit to Brooklyn, and this Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an introduction by Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting.
Described by various reviewers as hellish and obscene, Last Exit to Brooklyn tells the stories of New Yorkers who at every turn confront the worst excesses in human nature. Yet there are moments of exquisite tenderness in these troubled lives. Georgette, the transvestite who falls in love with a callous hoodlum; Tralala, the conniving prostitute who plumbs the depths of sexual degradation; and Harry, the strike leader who hides his true desires behind a boorish masculinity, are unforgettable creations. Last Exit to Brooklyn was banned by British courts in 1967, a decision that was reversed the following year with the help of a number of writers and critics including Anthony Burgess and Frank Kermode.
Hubert Selby, Jr. (1928-2004) was born in Brooklyn, New York. At the age of 15, he dropped out of school and went to sea with the merchant marines. While at sea he was diagnosed with lung disease. With no other way to make a living, he decided to try writing: ‘I knew the alphabet. Maybe I could be a writer.’ In 1964 he completed his first book, Last Exit to Brooklyn, which has since become a cult classic. In 1966, it was the subject of an obscenity trial in the UK. His other books include The Room, The Demon, Requiem for a Dream, The Willow Tree and Waiting Period. In 2000, Requiem for a Dream was adapted into a film starring Jared Leto and Ellen Burstyn, and directed by Darren Aronofsky.
If you enjoyed Last Exit to Brooklyn, you might like Larry McMurty’s The Last Picture Show, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.
‘Last Exit to Brooklyn will explode like a rusty hellish bombshell over America, and still be eagerly read in 100 years’
‘An urgent tickertape from hell’