Catherine, a young anarchist estranged from her parents and squatting in an abandoned building on New York’s Lower East Side is fighting with her boyfriend and conflicted about her work on an underground newspaper. After learning of a developer's plans to demolish a community garden, Catherine builds an alliance with a group of Puerto Rican community activists. Together they confront the confluence of politics, money, and real estate that rule Manhattan. All the while she learns important lessons from her great-grandmother's life in the Yiddish anarchist movement that flourished on the Lower East Side at the turn of the century. In this coming of age story, family saga, and tale of urban politics, Dan Chodorkoff explores the "principle of hope”, and examines how memory and imagination inform social change.
About the Author
Dan Chodorkoff is a writer and educator who co-founded The Institute for Social Ecology. He received his PH.D incultural anthropology from the New School for Social Research where his studies focused on the integration of alternative technologies like solar energy, wind energy, and community gardens into grassroots community development efforts on the Lower East Side, where he worked for twelve years in the 70s and 80s. A former college professor, his writing has been translated into five languages and appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. He is a life-long activist in the peace and ecology movements, who views resistance to hierarchy and domination among people as integrally linked to the reharmonization of people and nature. Dan is currently living in Northern Vermont with his wife and two daughters where he gardens, writes, plays harmonica, and works on environmental justice issues. Loisaida is his first novel.
Loisaida brings mid-twentieth century life in New York to readers with cinematic immediacy. Dan Chodorkoff's remarkable ear for eavesdropping in on what Grace Paley called "cosmic dialogue of the streets," and the way his sociological astuteness is present on every page, makes for an inimitable debut novel. Chodorkoff's characters are — with all of their passionate politics, erotic craziness, unpredictable despair and joy, their big appetites for life -- indispensable. Wonderfully animating the fundamental eccentricity of life and, page by page, full of passionate erudition, Loisaida is indeed a powerful reading experience.
—Howard Norman, author of The Bird Artist and Devotion; two time National Book Award finalist