50 Books To Read Before You Die

The Fortress of Solitude

Author: Jonathan Lethem
Released: 2003
Genre: Coming-of-age drama

Resplendent with pop culture allusions, Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude examines the friendship between two boys in the gentrifying Brooklyn of the '70s. Dylan Ebdus is white, Mingus Rude is black, and nothing is easy. Lethem draws on his own coming of age in BK to craft lyrical, powerful prose that acts as a snapshot of a place, much like Joyce’s Dubliners. Graffiti, the rift between punk and funk, racial tension in rapidly changing neighborhoods—they all find a natural place in Lethem’s masterpiece.

Fun Fact: Lethem clearly knows a thing or two about old-school hip-hop: Throughout The Fortress of Solitude, his characters reference songs from artists like N.W.A. ("Straight Outta Compton"), Run-DMC ("Walk this Way"), and Digital Underground ("Foghorn Leghorn").

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