2. Underworld (1997)
Author: Don DeLillo
Areas Featured: Washington Heights; the Bronx
This long and ambitious work from postmodern master Don DeLillo stands out for the historical events and figures woven effortlessly into the narrative. The story opens with a young boy sneaking into the 1951 New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers game. He ends up running off with the Giant's pennant winning ball, famously referred to as "the shot heard round the world." From here, the novel expands outward to draw the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the very fabric of America into its colossal gravitational pull. Frank Sinatra and Lenny Bruce make cameos; J. Edgar Hoover looms large.
DeLillo was born in the Bronx, and his closeness to the city can be felt in the novel's most sublime moments, the opening especially. —GT