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The Vox Book Club is going back to Fortress of Solitude, one of the best novels of the 2000s

Spend May with Jonathan Lethem’s lovely and prescient novel of friendship, race, class, and superheroes.

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The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem.
Left: Vintage. Right: Lethem.
Constance Grady is a senior correspondent on the Culture team for Vox, where since 2016 she has covered books, publishing, gender, celebrity analysis, and theater.

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This May, the Vox Book Club is reading Jonathan Lethem’s Fortress of Solitude, one of the loveliest and most prescient novels of the 2000s. It follows two motherless boys growing up in the Brooklyn of the 1970s, one Black and one white. As Lethem tracks the intimate rise and ugly fall of their friendship, he offers a fraught and painful love letter to New York before the endemic gentrification of the 1990s: the graffiti, the music, the violence.

Fortress of Solitude contains multitudes. It is an evocation of a childhood both lawless and idyllic, a portrait of a connection between two boys that runs deeper than friendship, a clear-eyed depiction of America’s repeated de-investment from and then appropriation of Black New York, and a condemnation of the lost dream of the 1970s. The whole book is written in Lethem’s cool, measured prose, the rhythm of every sentence precisely calibrated. Also, there are superheroes.

Join the Vox Book Club as we spend May going back in time to explore The Fortress of Solitude. At the end of the month, we’ll meet Lethem live on Zoom, and you can RSVP here. In the meantime, subscribe to the Vox Book Club newsletter to make sure you don’t miss anything.

The full Vox Book Club schedule for May 2022

Friday, May 20: Discussion post on Fortress of Solitude published to

Tuesday, May 31, 5 pm ET: Virtual live event with author Jonathan Lethem. Reader questions are encouraged!