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The Thieves of Manhattan

3.57  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,461 Ratings  ·  316 Reviews
The famously false memoirs of James Frey may be yesterday’s news, but as this funny riff reminds us, literary fakes are as old as literature itself. Ian Minot is an aspiring writer who labors over short stories that seem destined to remain unread. His beautiful Romanian girlfriend, Anya Petrescu, finds success more easily—and leaves Ian for Blade Markham, a bloviating ex-g ...more
Paperback, 259 pages
Published July 13th 2010 by Spiegel & Grau (first published July 9th 2010)
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Community Reviews

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Ian Minot
I was told that I should sign up to Goodreads since people here were reading this book. I don't think I'm going to give it a star review, though, because well, I wrote it. However, if any of you would like to discuss it with me, feel free to send me an e-mail at or you can track me down on FaceBook or Twitter. In the meanwhile, I hope people here enjoy the book.



Jul 18, 2010 Cynthia rated it really liked it
"Thieves" is magically entertaining. I loved Langer's wonderfully inventive literary references. Famous author's names can become verbs or evocative nouns such as when Ian, the main character, gets fed up with his crazy life and wants to pull a salinger, meaning he wants to hide away for awhile a la JD Salinger. People at upscale literary readings and parties drink faulkners (whiskey) or fitzgeralds (gin rickys), they wear ecklebergs or franzens, both forms of eyeglasses.

In the beginning Ian, a
Aug 07, 2014 Bandit rated it it was amazing
For how much I love books about books, literary mysteries and New York stories, this book was pretty much tailor made for me. A nesting doll of a novel, a story within a story, mystery wrapped in an enigma. This book was so clever, it invented its own language of literary references, large enough to warrant its own glossary. Tale of a literary hoax, frustrated writers, frustrated betrayed homicidal bent librarians who used massive tomes on Shakespeare as weapons, pretentious posers, artists, edi ...more
Jul 23, 2010 Felice rated it liked it
What a crack up! Author Adam Langer has taken James Frey, publishing insiders, misery memoirs, the stereotypical Manhattan artist scene and written a funny, funny novel. His hero Ian Minot, a failed writer, is a classic bad luck Shleprock. He can't get anything right and his timing is worst of all. His lack of success is thorough. He can't get his work published and his immigrant Romanian girlfriend, the current darling of the publishing world as a result of her memoir of life under Ceausescu, i ...more
Sep 21, 2010 Howard rated it liked it
I'm sure I've posted my perverse love of books about writers, and the more down and out they are, the better, so I liked this book before I even opened it. It's nice and breezy, with amusing doses of schadenfreude, and if he takes aim at a few of the obvious fish in publishing barrels, well somebody has to from time to time, or else what use are they. It's also pulpy and heartwarmingly bibliophilic, so altogether it was a quick, slight, enjoyable read.

However, his trick/tic/device/whatever-you-
Dec 14, 2010 Aharon rated it it was ok
A book has to be pretty damn clever to justify ending with a glossary of made-up “literary” slang it uses. But this book isn’t that clever; it’s average, and so kinda bad.
Léna Roy
Aug 13, 2010 Léna Roy rated it it was amazing
I had no idea that Adam was a writer, until he friended me on Facebook and I started getting announcements and reviews about his book: The Thieves of Manhattan: A comic literary thriller in which a down-on-his-luck writer finds himself ensnared in a web of deceit when he puts his name to a fake memoir.

It's his fifth book, mind you, so I don't know what planet I've been on. Planet Mommy, Planet Writer. Adam was another parent of a delightful girl at my daughter's pre-school. We had talked parenti
Jul 13, 2010 Tilly marked it as to-read

How many novels begin with a Milli Vanilli quote? In the case of the funny and sharp The Thieves of Manhattan, by Adam Langer , the lyric “Girl you know it’s true” is particularly apt, as this clever tale blurs fact and fiction to riotous effect.
Ian Minot is a disgruntled coffee barista who yearns to crack the literary world’s inner circle, but no one seems to want to publish his sensitive short fiction. Not helping matters is Blade Markham, author of a best-selling street memoir that may or may
Aaron Poorman
Aug 01, 2010 Aaron Poorman rated it really liked it
Shelves: subliminalmaybe

If by chance you are an aspiring writer this book's view of the publishing world might really bum you out. When a book is labeled as 'literary' it seems a somewhat natural response to brace for possible pretentiousness. Books about books can indeed be redundant and often miss the mark ; writer protagonists face a daunting task, because referencing other works may only remind readers of those works, thereby drawing attention to an authors inferiority. This is not the case with The Thieves of Manh
Lindsey Lang
Jun 19, 2011 Lindsey Lang rated it really liked it
this book would have merited a 5 star if it wasn't for the highly annoying 'literary references' sprinkled throughout which cause you to check a glossary at the back of the book for ones that aren't obvious. reading the story i understand why he had them and what the point was but i still found them so annoying that i almost put the book down several times especially when he would use the real word and then the 'literary' word for it in the same paragraph!
but other than that i thoroughly enjoye
Jul 22, 2010 Trin rated it liked it
Sometimes I worry that there's something recursive—or even, yes, vaguely masturbatory—about reading books about books. But I love them; I read them constantly; I may have what you'd call a bit of a problem. Perhaps the reason I can't seem to let a literary satire or reader's memoir pass me by is that I know from the start that—to very loosely paraphrase Woody Allen—I'll be reading a book about a subject I love: books.

Last year it was Steve Hely's How I Became a Famous Novelist that earned my ard
Oct 15, 2010 Jenny rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book from the get-go, but the author really too it up a notch about two-thirds of the way through. It was a great read; a lot of that came from the insider knowledge of publishing - it's a huge wink-and-nod to that - but I think anyone could enjoy it. I read the glossary first, and there are a few terms I wish would become common usage (e.g the verb "lish," meaning to edit savagely; the verb "kerouac," meaning to drive cross-country). Overall, really entertaining and invent ...more
Jul 07, 2010 Fiona added it
Read it for work. It's a really well-told story, and it drew me in by the end despite my initial I've-been-read-Tolstoy-and-everything-else-sucks-by-comparison feelings. He has a linguistic gimmick which is sort of nice -- using author's names as nouns, e.g. "hammet" for "bullet" or "hemingway" for "well-constructed sentence," but all nice feelings you have about it die when you notice a) there's a glossary in the book — like anyone interested in books enough to read this incredibly insidery pub ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Oct 11, 2010 Bookmarks Magazine rated it liked it
Shelves: nov-dec-2010
Crime caper meets metafictional satire of the publishing industry in this mischievous novel, says the New Yorker about this postmodern work, which skewers the publishing industry as it examines the meaning of truth and fraud. Snarky, clever, and preposterous, yet somehow credible (James Frey comes to mind), The Thieves of Manhattan kept critics on their toes. Yet while most critics enjoyed (or at least "got") Langer's name-dropping and insider vocabulary (a "poppins" is an umbrella, "franzens" a ...more
Marc Flores
Jul 28, 2011 Marc Flores rated it liked it
I'd have given this two stars if it weren't for the location and my familiarity with it. I understand that the book is a parody of itself, but it goes a little too far and it becomes such a huge gimmick that it interferes with the story.

The story itself is OK, though perhaps authors, publishers, literary agents and book reviewers might have a bigger appreciation for the references to the publishing industry. Also, the language in the book doesn't seem authentic - people don't really talk like t
Sep 10, 2010 Jeremy rated it liked it
All right, I didn't actually like this book.

It's corny, cutesy, gimmicky, and...crap.

But, people working on their first manuscripts should read it. First it'll make you mad. "How can this schmuck have a published book?" (The unasked part of the question is, "...and not me," but the answer is of course, "Because you haven't written one yet, dumbass.") Then if you're anything like me you'll think to yourself, "Waitaminnit! This guy got his novel(s) published. I don't write that poorly. Maybe my wo
May 04, 2016 Jax rated it really liked it
for a book that I picked up randomly in Canada's biggest humanities library I think I did pretty good. this meta book was at first kinda slow but then super exhilarating and I'll leave it at that. it's the metaness that got me but the story ended up being fun too
Robert Palmer
Mar 07, 2015 Robert Palmer rated it liked it
Ian Minot is an aspiring writer who works in a New York coffee shop,his Girlfriend Anya Petrescu is also an aspiring writer who shortly will become a best selling Authur while Ian is still daydreaming about his craft. Ian meets Jeb Roth an ex-editor and soon to be a scam artist. Jeb suspects or I should say, knows for sure that a best selling memoir about drug addiction and being in a gang of thugs,is in reality a fake and he convinces Gullible Ian to write a fake memoir that he assures him will ...more
Gillian Ream
Feb 17, 2016 Gillian Ream rated it liked it
I enjoyed the hell out of this book. I went in expecting an interesting memoir and ended up with a rollicking adventure. The entire book was an entertaining send-up of the publishing industry, which is fun to read about as a reader and probably terribly depressing if you're an aspiring writer. but hey, what isn't?

The device of using literary references as words was particularly entertaining--characters drink two fingers of faulkner with ice, smoke vonneguts, flash you a cheshire while wearing a
Sep 17, 2012 April rated it it was amazing
When a small-time writer decides to con the publishing industry, he becomes part of a story much larger than himself in this literary caper. Or is it a memoir of fantastic fraudulence?

"She and Norbert may have been criminals, but she was still a scholar and he was still a librarian; both thought that they could find the solution to any mystery by discovering the right page in a book."
Dec 03, 2015 David rated it really liked it
I'm kind of torn on how I feel about this one. I ended up liking it at the end and as a whole, but each different portion had something different that I liked and something different that really bugged me, each somehow overcoming what felt like defects of other portions and introducing what felt like defects the other portions had right. It did feel that the book was a different book several times along the way. I'm still trying to decide if that was a flaw or not, how that wasn't signaled in a ...more
Jul 16, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it
Quite a nice caper. Ian Minot gets caught in a whirlwind tale and you're like the dog sticking its head out the window on the ride. I usually find the romanization of foreign language accents jarring, but I think in this case it enhanced the character of Anya. I certainly heard her parts in a thick accent in my head; not sure how the audiobook handled that. I love Langer's literary glossary...needed it a couple of times, actually, but I didn't realize it was there for the first few pages. Glad I ...more
Gail Baugniet
Feb 24, 2011 Gail Baugniet rated it it was amazing
I hardly feel equipped to review this novel. What I will say is, I kept thinking of it as a tutorial for writers ...
A book editor writes a book, gets rejected (been there), and decides to get his revenge by devising a plot and involving a few unwitting characters: an artist, a writer, and a wannabe actor.

If there were 6 stars available, I'd pick 6.
Nov 15, 2010 Michaela rated it it was amazing
A very interesting book. It was funny, very intelligently written, clever, and there was a lot to "digest". I found it very clever and really enjoyed the character of Ian Minot.

I recommend this book, and I’d love to read more by Langer.
Jul 13, 2010 Kerri marked it as to-read
The very short list has yet to let me down with their book recommendations so I'm looking forward to this one because it sounds like a "Kerri" read!
Oct 05, 2010 JAK rated it really liked it
Had to interrupt the amazing Kraken to hit the NYC literary scene for a day or two....
Aug 17, 2010 Kristine rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2010
I only read about 20 pages and didn't have the patience to carry on. That is all.
Aug 23, 2015 Max rated it it was ok
The book started with the main character being extremely cynical with no real redeeming qualities. His own personality seemed to inspire the horrible events around him; things just got worse and worse. I knew that there'd be a redeeming factor somewhere, so I kept with it.

What came after that was an interesting adventure of double crosses, clues, hoodwinking and eye-winking to the reader. Unfortunately, none of it was as clever or as interesting as the author seemed to think. The book presumes y
Sep 15, 2011 Nicole rated it really liked it
I know you are all like, "Dang, Nic, where you been?" since it's been over a week since my last review, and the answer is that I have been in Europe. I read some books while there, but when I tried to review them early this week it came out as gobbeldy-gook.

Ok, ok, let's get to it. You are riding on a schooner on the ocean, and all is going well. It's languid and peaceful and you are enjoying the ride. Maybe even reading a good book and eating some fresh mozzarella with your Prosecco. You are c
warren Cassell
Aug 02, 2010 warren Cassell rated it really liked it
I was very much persuaded by the advance hype for the fictional Thieves of Manhattan, a satirical look at the publishing/book industry, with all of its distinctive foibles. Real big name players and a smattering of thinly disguised denizens pepper this usually humorous novel. Unfortunately, it seems to run out of steam during the last chapters of a tall, but until then, believable tale. (But does it? Believability or its lack is the whole point.)

This is the story of an up and coming writer who
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Adam Langer is a journalist, author, playwright and filmmaker.

His work has been featured most recently on NPR's Selected Shorts, in The Best Men's Stage Monologues 2000, and The Best Women's Stage Monologues 2000, as well as in the Chicago Reader's Fiction Issue, and in the literary magazine Salt Hill. His plays have been produced in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and numerous othe
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