From the bestselling author of The Middlesteins comes comes this unique novel about a forgotten heroine of the 1930s. Meet Mazie Phillips: big-hearted and feisty, she runs The Venice, the famed movie theatre in the rundown Bowery district of New York City. She spends her days taking tickets, chatting with drunks and eccentrics, and chasing out the troublemakers. After closing up, the nights are her own, and she fills them with romance and booze aplenty-even during Prohibition. When the Great Depression hits, and homelessness soars, Mazie opens The Venice to those in need, giving them shelter and dimes for food and booze, and earning the nickname 'Saint Mazie'. Inspired by Joseph Mitchell's essay about Mazie in Up in the Old Hotel, acclaimed author Jami Attenberg's novel honours an extraordinary life and heralds a completely original approach to writing historical fiction. Weaving together fictionalised diaries, writings and interviews, Attenberg has constructed an utterly convincing portrait of Mazie Philips, which is also a deeply moving portrait of New York as it passed through the First World War, Prohibition, the boom of the '20s, and then the terrible depression of the '30s.
An ingenious novel that imagines the life and times of Mazie Philips, a real-life saint from New York City, by the highly acclaimed author of The Middlesteins
Fascinating ... Attenberg's prose is sharp, fast-paced and economical, brilliantly channelling Mazie's vivacious character. And despite being set firmly in the past, Mazie's experiences of grief, family, friendship and mental health are timeless and universal Observer Attenberg's novel reads like a very real portrait of the 1920s and 1930s ... this is a novel with as big a heart as Mazie herself Independent Full of love and drink and dirty sex The New York Times A terrific novel, touching, funny and big-hearted -- Monica Ali Fierce, feisty and moving, this is a fine portrait of an inspiring woman The Sunday Express Jami Attenberg's fictional reconstruction of Mazie's life is a bold departure from how historical novels are usually written. Split between fictionalised diary entries, excerpts from The Unpublished Autobiography of Mazie Phillips-Gordon (also fiction) and Attenberg's invented interviewees, the structure resonates a relentless energy that keeps the narrative rattling along ... Attenberg captures Mazie's voice so vividly you can close the book and still hear her talking. She is a tremendous achievement ... and you sure won't forget her in a hurry. Attenberg has written a bold, magnificent book about family, altruism, women and freedom, as well as a love letter to New York and a timely social manifesto for the 21st century. What more can we ask of our fiction? Guardian Wonderful -- Viv Groskop Red Fresh and witty... Saint Mazie looks deep into the spirit of generosity. Jami Attenberg's Mazie lives a very big life in a very small space, turning her darkest experiences into something inspiring Wall Street Journal Ingeniously constructed... An attentive character study that also happens to be rich in city lore and period detail, Saint Mazie is an edifying, companionable and moving novel Kansas City Star Tender-hearted and loose-living. Mazie is the unlikely guardian angel of New York City's Depression-era down-and-outs. You'll love this smart, touching novel that brings her world to life People Magazine A hard-nosed heroine with a heart of gold, Mazie will leave her mark on you Book Diva Saint Mazie offers proof again that Jami Attenberg is a brilliant, lion-hearted storyteller -- Maggie Shipstead, author of Seating Arrangements I'd love to be Jami Attenberg for a day to see what she sees. The next best thing is to read the touching, funny, and wise Saint Mazie, which is as difficult to categorise as the hard-living, heart-breaking, soul-saving ticket-taker it is about -- Charlotte Rogan, author of The Lifeboat Saint Mazie is a novel with as much style and moxie as its titular character. I missed Mazie Gordon-Phillips and her family when I was finished reading, but I missed New York, too. By telling this one woman's story, Jami Attenberg has managed to write an ode to New Yorkers of every generation. She is a true poet of the city -- Gabrielle Zevin, author of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
Jami Attenberg is the author of a story collection, Instant Love, and the novels The Kept Man and The Melting Season. Her last book, The Middlesteins, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction and was published in nine countries. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit her online at jamiattenberg.com or follow her @jamiattenberg.