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Lost in the City

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  2,652 ratings  ·  291 reviews
A magnificent collection of short fiction focusing on the lives of African-American men and women in Washington, D.C., Lost in the City is the book that first brought author Edward P. Jones to national attention. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and numerous other honors for his novel The Known World, Jones made his literary debut with ...more
Paperback, 268 pages
Published November 30th 2004 by Amistad Press (first published June 1st 1992)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  2,652 ratings  ·  291 reviews

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B. P. Rinehart
Tryin To Get To You by The Eagles (1950s R&B group from Washington, D. C.)

Coming-up on year 6 of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent

I'm a late-comer to Edward P. Jones. I missed all the hype over The Known World, but when I did realize there was this idosyntric author from my hometown that wrote books--I kept my eyes open and got both of his short-story books. This review is of his 1st book of short stories that was published when I was two years old. Though pub
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I can't figure out how these short stories have such fully developed characters. In my imagination, Jones wrote 14 full-length novels, then choose one chapter from each novel for inclusion in this collection. Or in some cases just culled the novel down to its most essential 20 pages. Because I feel as if another fascinating 250 pages exists for each of these stories. There, in between the lines, Jones exposes glimpses of the history and future of each character.

I would very much like to read al
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is a well-written collection, comprised of 14 stories about the lives of African-American characters living in Washington, D.C. I read it in large part because several years ago I was extremely impressed with Jones’s novel, The Known World. This was the author’s first book and though imperfect, it also shows a strong literary style.

These stories follow the lives of ordinary people, though there is a pervasive sense of loss, and domestic violence and tragedy are common occurrences. Though th
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Pulitzer-and-numerous-other-literary-prize winner Edward P. Jones’ “Lost in the City” was one of the books that had been chilling on my bookcase for a while before I cracked it open, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to grow a bit before digging into it. I got the first nudge from Junot Diaz at the National Book Festival, when he listed Jones as one of his influences. I’d read “The Known World” back when it came out, but I don’t think I’d developed the teeth necessary to really chew on and dige ...more
Daniel Chaikin
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"...he was left with the ever-increasing vastness of the small apartment..."

Struggling just to get myself sitting and reading and actually blocking out the world a bit, and I picked this up to see if it would help. The collection of stories was the right kind of halfway step. Those ten, twenty, thirty minutes of focus were well rewarded, even if they came here in there, in a spotty way, between long draws on fb and the news and dwelling about where our world is headed—still obsessed.

Jones is sp
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book feels like a gift to Native Washingtonians. As I read, I envisioned the neighborhoods and how different they are now. Today I often hear the natives speak about gentrification. And then there's the recent news that Washington, DC is no longer "Chocolate City." It's obvious to me when Jones writes about certain parts of the city that even if the buildings look the same, the people don't.

The stories seem so matter of fact - authentic. They're not flashy or dramatized. It's like it coul
VaLinda Miller
Apr 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
As someone who was born and raised in Washington, DC, I could not get enough of this book.  It reminded me so much of my life living on East Capital street in N.E., DC. The DC Stadium, Anacostia, H.D. Woodson, and Spingard high schools.  The DGS grocery store where I would walk to and buy every day items for my grandmother and me.  My first bus trip with my grandmother, who got up real early, took a long bath, sprayed “Secret” deodorant and baby power all over her then get me ready by making me ...more
Oct 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Edward P. Jones performs a literary sleight-of-hand in his Lost in the City by transforming the mundane into the transcendent. Jones writes the fourteen short stories in Lost. . . with simple, straightforward words. Look beyond the superficial simplicity, and you find powerful emotional poetry. From the “The First Day”, we’re told that ”On an otherwise unremarkable September morning, long before I learned to be ashamed of my mother, she takes my hand and we set off down New Jersey Avenue to beg ...more
Mar 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
If Edward P. Jones were asked to suggest an epigraph for Lost in the City, I imagine he would give serious thought to the inscription over the door to Plato’s Academy: “Let no one enter here who is ignorant of geometry.” Much is made of the streets of Washington D.C. both within these stories and within the province of conspiracy theorists. The original street layout of our national capital was designed by Pierre Charles L’Enfant, a Freemason like many of the founding fathers, and the briefest g ...more
Oct 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My copy of LOST IN THE CITY is a reprint, opening with a 2012 introduction* by Jones, and if you can, find a copy with this intro (granted, there's a case to be made for reading introductions until you've read the main work). There are many things to love about this essay, which I suspect Jones may have given as a speech...AWP?

Consider this passage:

In my first months at Holy Cross College, I found an inordinate amount of ignorance about the city where I was born and raised, about a place that
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
(3.5) This 1992 debut collection is set in Washington, D.C. in the 1960s to 1990s and features elderly church ladies, aimless young people threatened by street violence, and middle-aged men coming to terms with their Southern heritage. I grew up in the D.C. suburbs and our predominantly African-American church met in D.C. before moving out to Maryland, so although I’m more familiar with a tourist’s perspective on the capital than a resident’s, these stories felt authentic to me: the names, the B ...more
Nov 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
This was Edward P. Jones first book. It is an amazing collection of stories centered around ordinary black people in DC. showing that ordinary people can be the stuff of extraordinary writing. These are not stories with a suprise ending or a message. Rather they are a slice of life with people who you might be sitting next to on the bus. Jones is not judgmental. They are all gods creatures, they are in one way or another lost in the city.

I know Edward if only slightly and he is an unassuming guy
Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ...
These stories are quiet, rich, textured and make me feel like I better understand the lives of these African American men and women who live in the District of Columbia. Of course, I know that isn't true, but when a book makes me think and feel and have empathy for the characters, it is one that I am grateful to have read.
Jun 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Lost in the city is an apt and appropriate title for these 14 short stories. All take place in the African-American sections of Washington DC and all of the characters are black.

The first story, The Girl Who Raised Pigeons, demonstrates that the characters are real and that they have the same feelings of love and self that whites have. Betsy Ann is eight when she first sees pigeons being raised by a barber friend of her father. It is love at first sight. Over the years she bothers her father for
Jan 07, 2011 rated it did not like it
UGH! Is there some rule that says that all sort stories must: 1) have some kind of plot twist or surprise, and 2) the surprise must be depressing?

I mean, really? This collection opens with a story about a girl who raises pigeons. It ends with all the pigeons except two being killed by rats (sort of poetically ironic, considering that pigeons are flying rats). The two remaining pigeons escape and stare at the girl from across the way, refusing to come home since they are their compatriots were b
Jul 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
I was strangely unmoved by this collection, despite the fact that it covers one of the most underrepresented groups in literature: namely, the African-American population of Washington, DC. As a current resident of that city, it's a rare experience to be able to read about a world that used to exist, which I tread on now in an admittedly (and sadly) post-gentrified time.

And while it made the stories more visceral and real to have them set right outside my door (or in other neighborhoods I used
Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: african-american
I've never really been a fan of reading short stories, but I decided to give this a try and thank goodness that I did.

Each of these stories will pull at a heart string. After completing each story I had to take a break just to think about what I just read. This collection was just absolutely breathtaking and I was overwhelmed by each individual story.
Edward P. Jones is amazing and I cannot wait to read one of his novels.
May 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Can anyone do the big, sprawling voice better than Edward P. Jones? I'm not sure. But each story in this collection gives you insight into an entire world, not just a few characters getting through a difficult situation like you see in so many other short story writers these days. Definitely read this book, if for no other reason than to observe the progression of a great writer.
Kate Levin
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
One of the stories in this book was so good that I almost wished I hadn't read it, because I couldn't get it off my mind. The one called "The Sunday Following Mother's Day." This is one my favorite books.
Jun 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
the blocks i walk each day look different after reading these stories.
Jul 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
I've read these stories--all taking place in various part of and featuring various residents of Washington, D.C.--again and again. Jones is simply one of the greatest story writers around.
Bill Silva
Aug 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
These stories all share a common setting and have some interrelated characters, but each story stands alone as a finely wrought, exquisitely detailed and evocative depiction of the lives of Black working class Washingtonians and their boundaried world. In a completely unexploitative way, many of the stories contain an act of violence that impinges on the characters and shapes their actions and outcomes. Each story helps to construct an entire world that the reader comes to see as incredibly rich ...more
Hana Vizcarra
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautiful vignettes of everyday life in old DC. A great book to read on commutes or before bed as the individual stories do not take long.
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I say it every time but I love short stories for the way they engage and portray a broad spectrum of humanity. Yes, ‘Lost in the City’ is a microcosm of the African-American experience in Washington DC in the late twentieth century and Edward P. Jones gets to the heart of this with art and skill, yet we can all relate to loss, and fear and the hope that run through these pages.

Everyone in these stories is striving for something better, something more than what they have, whether its education f
Jul 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
While many American cultural treasures rest on walls, under glass, or in archives in stodgy institutions in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C. is rarely thought of as a place that inspires and brings life to original works of art that speak of the District as a "real" city where "real" people live. It is certainly not, for instance, New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, as a beacon of American culture.

When a work comes along, however, that brings something uniquely "of the District" to li
Roger DeBlanck
Jan 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Edward P. Jones’s first book Lost in the City is a collection of short stories that take place in settings around Jones's hometown of Washington D.C. The force of the collection is the depth to which he explores his characters. Through the use of simple language, Jones’s captivating style holds readers attention as he takes on topics that are disturbing, sad, and raw. Whether dealing with loss, crime, or wrongdoing, these stories do not pass judgment. In fact, a dominating theme comes through in ...more
Feb 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories

"On an otherwise unremarkable September morning, long before I learned to be ashamed of my mother, she takes my hand and we set off down New Jersey Avenue to begin my very first day of school."

So begins The First Day, one of the fourteen character driven short stories drawn from Edward P. Jones' award winning book, "Lost in the City." It is the story of an illiterate mother who sacrifices pride and seeks help from a stranger in order to get her young daughter enrolled in school and it is also
Jack Bullion
Jun 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: listened-to, 2010
I resisted this collection for a long time, partly because I didn't particularly enjoy The Known World and its plodding, deliberate prose style, which I mistook for something much more simplistic than it actually was. Since then I've become a much more patient reader, more capable of giving a writer like Jones my full attention. Which is good, considering that beneath Jones' rather plainspoken approach are narrative structures every bit as knotty as Alice Munro's. Jones' sentences span lifetimes ...more
Jul 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book of short stories centered on life in Washington, DC in the second half of the 20th century. Jones' diverse range of characters is his biggest strength - his stories center on men and women; children, teenagers, adults and the very old; educated government workers, drug dealers, auto mechanics; folks from the rural South and city folks who look down on them; rich people and poor people. The characters are often morally ambiguous, and are written with humanity, sensitivit ...more
Jun 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: washington-dc
Jones describes his characters with a rich realism that makes the short stories enjoyable, even if their tone is not always upbeat. I especially got into "The Store," one of the longer stories with some character development, however the snippets of life described in "The Night Rhonda Ferguson Was Killed," "Marie," and "An Orange Line Train to Ballston" were also highlights for me. Being a metro-rider, the last of those was especially true-to-life - the woman scalding her children to sit facing ...more
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Lost In the City 1 9 Sep 16, 2009 06:19PM  

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Edward P. Jones has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and the Lannan Literary Award for The Known World. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2004, and his first collection of short stories, Lost in the City, won the PEN/Hemingway Award and was short-listed for the National Book Award. His most recent collection, All Aun ...more

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