Brian Platzer has an MFA from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, where he studied under Alice McDermott and Steven Dixon; and a BA from Columbia, where he worked closely with Heidi Julavits and Mat Johnson. His writing has appeared often in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and The New Yorker’s Shouts and Murmurs site as well as in The New Republic, Salon, Big Big Wednesday, Avery, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. He lives with his family in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter.
BED-STUY IS BURNING (MAY 2017)
Do the Right Thing meets The Bonfire of the Vanities, in this “thrilling debut novel about marriage, gentrification, parenthood, race, and the dangerous bargains we make with ourselves” (Ann Packer, New York Times bestselling author) set over the course of one cataclysmic day when riots erupt in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood.
Aaron, a disgraced rabbi turned Wall Street banker, and Amelia, his journalist girlfriend, live with their newborn in Bedford-Stuyvesant, one of the most dynamic and historically volatile neighborhoods in New York City. The infusion of upwardly mobile professionals into Bed-Stuy’s historic brownstones belies the tension simmering on the streets below. But after a cop shoots a boy in a nearby park, conflict escalates to rioting—with Aaron and his family at its center.
Pulled into the riot’s vortex are Antoinette, devout nanny to Aaron and Amelia’s son; Jupiter, the single father who lives on their block with his son, Derek; Daniel, Aaron’s unhinged tenant in their basement unit; and Sara, a smart local girl, broiling with confusion and rage. As the day unfolds, these diverse characters are forced to reckon with who they are and what truly matters to them.
With “the mordant wit of Franzen, the dazzling smarts of Roth, and the compassion of Tolstoy” (Rafael Yglesias, author of A Happy Marriage), Platzer conjures a sharp-eyed, fast-paced, and empathetically rendered narrative about a changing neighborhood and its residents, as they struggle to raise children, establish careers, and find love, fulfillment, and meaning. Bed-Stuy Is Burning offers a window into an array of complex lives and deftly wrestles with the most pressing issues of our time with unflinching focus, wisdom, and hope.
“The city is burning indeed in New Yorker contributor Platzer's debut novel, sometimes with fire and sometimes with much-compounded shame… Expertly paced, eminently readable, and a promising start.”—Kirkus
"Brian Platzer's first novel is a savvy, heartfelt and utterly engaging examination of gentrification, love, race, ambition, money, parenthood and even faith. A Bonfire of the Vanities for millennials, it is a marvelous, and daring, debut."—Alice McDermott, National Book Award winning author of Charming Billy
"Platzer writes insightfully about political isues while providing a panoramic take on New York that embraces the city's enormous complexity. This deeply moral book avoids easy conclusions and courts that ambiguity that is the hallmark of all great fiction."—Matthew Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves
"Brian Platzer has written a thrilling debut novel about marriage, gentrification, parenthood, race, and the dangerous bargains we make with ourselves. At once a heart-stopping portrayal of a day of violence and a deeply realized portrait of the five people at its center, Bed-Stuy is Burning marks the arrival of a tremendously accomplished young writer. I can’t wait to see what he does next."—Ann Packer, New York Times bestselling author
"Thirty years ago Tom Wolfe tackled New York excess with The Bonfire of the Vanities, and now Brian Platzer strikes his own match with Bed-Stuy Is Burning, the results just as timely and bright. Instead of Manhattan in the Eighties, Platzer turns his sharp eye onto present day Brooklyn: the simmering tensions of race and privilege, of cultural appropriation and identity politics, and of course real estate. The story gives voice to multiple characters in search of their American home – even police commissioner William Bratton has a supporting role – and Platzer has the confident novelistic chops to find the beating heart of humanity in everyone's struggle and striving. Bed-Stuy Is Burning is a wonderful debut. I look forward to whatever Brian Platzer might light up next."—David Gilbert, author of & Sons
“In Bed-Stuy Is Burning, Brian Platzer’s funny, socially acute intelligence combines with his empathetic heart to reveal how faith, violence and real estate speculation shape contemporary life. It is the debut of a fully mature literary voice that has the mordant wit of Franzen, the dazzling smarts of Roth, and the compassion of Tolstoy.” — Rafael Yglesias, author of A Happy Marriage and Fearless
Rights: Atria, World