Lush Life A Novel

Richard Price




Trade Paperback

480 Pages



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A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist
A PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist
Longlisted for the International IMPAC Literary Award
Winner of The Strand Magazine Critics Award for Best Novel
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book
An Economist Best Book of the Year
A Wall Street Journal Best Book of the Year
A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
A Time Magazine Top Ten Book of the Year
A Seattle Times Best Book of the Year
A St. Louis Post-Dispatch Best Book of the Year
A Village Voice Best Book of the Year
A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Best Book of the Year
A Booklist Editors' Choice Best Book of the Year
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

In Lush Life, Richard Price tears the shiny veneer off the "new" New York to show the hidden cracks, the underground networks of control and violence beneath the glamour.

When people asked Eric Cash, "So, what do you do?" he used to have a dozen answers. He called himself an artist, an actor, a screenwriter . . . but now Eric is thirty-five years old and still living on the Lower East Side, still in the restaurant business, still serving the people he wanted to be—people like Ike Marcus. Ike was young, good-looking, people liked him. Ask him what he did, he wouldn't say tending bar. He was going places—until two street kids stepped up to him and Eric one night and pulled a gun. At least, that's what happened according to Eric.

Lush Life is an x-ray of the street in the age of no broken windows and "quality of life" squads, from a writer whose "tough, gritty brand of social realism . . . reads like a movie in prose" (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times).


Praise for Lush Life

"No matter how routinely and highly praised it may be, Price's ear for dialogue, his ability to capture and reproduce the rhythm, tone, and evanescent vocabulary of urban life, cannot be overpraised: with all due respect to Elmore Leonard, Price is our best, one of the best writers of dialogue in the history of American literature. Resorting with miraculous infrequency to the use of dialect spellings and other orthographic tricks, Price gets his characters' words to convey subtle nuances of class, occupation, education, even geographical gradations of neighborhood, while also using them as a powerful vehicle for the transmission, in fits and starts, evasions and doublings back, of their interior lives. He is a perfect magpie for slang, and like its predecessors this novel is rich in fascinating bits of law-enforcement and street-criminal argot . . . By now Price has the police procedural down cold, both in his technical knowledge of the workings of the criminal justice system and in his control over pacing and point of view, and Lush Life reads swiftly . . . His prose has never felt more fluid, his plotting is spry, and later scenes spin by in a monte-dealer whirl before you realize that you have just been had with another unlikely (or perhaps likely but no less dissatisfying) coincidence. But what is most remarkable about Lush Life, finally, is not the astuteness of its social critique. Nor is it the resemblance of the book, or of the experience of reading it, as other critics have claimed, to watching a taut policer or a season of The Wire . . . If Lush Life reads, at times, like a kind of 'Priceland,' offering up to the reader, in a tightly controlled performance, ghostly echoes of the masterpieces that preceded it, perhaps that has less to do with any fault of Price's than of the city that, in ceaselessly remaking itself, in endlessly referring to itself, betrays everyone and everything but the irony and accuracy of those Yiddish words, carved into the blackened beam of the cellar apartment, words that could easily have served as the title of this fine novel: City of Gold."—Michael Chabon, The New York Review of Books

"[Price's] new novel, Lush Life, which is filled with page after page of vital speech, shows him inventing a life for dialogue rather than just taking it from life; and this spoken magic is often indistinguishable from Price's apparently more formal, descriptive prose. Of course, the author of such novels as Clockers and Samaritan (as well as episodes for The Wire, and several movies) has done his urban homework."—James Wood, The New Yorker

"The scenes in Lush Life are sure-footed and brisk . . . Lush Life is his funniest book yet, more overtly comedic than any that precede it . . . Lush Life is a satirical but sympathetic take on existence here at what, given the subprime mortgage fiasco and concomitant layoffs on Wall Street, may be the end of the early 21st-century economic boom."—Maud Newton, The Boston Globe

"The visceral pleasures of a whodunit yoked to the more cerebral thrill of a sociology project—an oral history of the modern Lower East Side. Price's commitment to immersive research, and his splinter skill for urban dialogue, allows him to ventriloquize seemingly every sentient being in the neighborhood: dealers, bouncers, real estate barons, illegal Chinese immigrants."—Sam Anderson, New York magazine

"Lush Life is complex, nuanced, and full of convincing detail."—Stephen Aubrey, Commonweal

"Lush Life revolves around a New York City murder, exploring the crime from all sides. With his trademark urban realism and genius for dialogue, Price vividly takes us inside the world of low-level street thugs, seen-it-all police detectives, heartbroken victims, hesitant witnesses and publicity-hungry politicians. And as Price meticulously follows the murder investigation, readers see that these characters (whether thugs, cops or victims) are far more complicated and interesting than what we had expected. Lush Life is often dark, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, and always gripping. Like all of Price's work, it is filled with gritty dialogue that crackles with unspoken tension and hidden meaning."—Chuck Leddy, The Writer

"With Lush Life Richard Price has become our post-modern American Balzac. Except that he's a whole lot funnier than Balzac and writes the language we hear and speak better than any novelist around, living or dead, American or French. He's a writer I hope my great-grandchildren will read, so they'll know what it was like to be truly alive in the early 21st century."—Russell Banks

"This is it, folks. The novel about gentrified New York, circa right now, that we've been waiting for. Richard Price understands what's happened to our beloved city, he writes dialogue like a genius, and he absolutely, genuinely cares."—Gary Shteyngart

"Richard Price is the greatest writer of dialogue, living or dead, this country has ever produced. Wry, profane, hilarious, and tragic, sometimes in a single line, Lush Life is his masterwork. I doubt anyone will write a novel this good for a long, long time."—Dennis Lehane

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt


The Quality of Life Task Force: four sweatshirts in a bogus taxi set up on the corner of Clinton Street alongside the Williamsburg Bridge off-ramp to profile the incoming salmon run; their mantra: Dope, guns, overtime; their motto:...

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  • Lush Life by Richard Price--Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to this audiobook excerpt from Richard Price's novel Lush Life, a tale of two Lower East Sides: one a high-priced bohemia, the other a home to hardship, its residents pushed to the edges of their time-honored turf. When a cocky young hipster is shot to death by a street kid from the "other" lower east side, the crime ripples through every stratum of the city in this brilliant and kaleidiscopic portrait of the "new" New York.

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  • Richard Price

  • Richard Price is the author of several novels, including Lush Life, Clockers, Freedomland, and Samaritan. He wrote the screenplays for the films Sea of Love, Ransom, and The Color of Money, for which he received an Academy Award nomination. He won the 2007 Edgar Award for Best TV writing as a co-writer for the HBO series The Wire. A member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters, he lives in New York City.

  • Richard Price Copyright Ralph Gibson
    Richard Price