Colson Whitehead’s new book, Zone One comes out tomorrow. The world has been overtaken by that cultural virus of the moment, zombies , and the zone in question is Lower Manhattan. It is the job of the protagonist to clear the area of the dead and undead, and many metaphors are obviously implicit: 9/11, the financial crisis, Occupy Wall Street.
But it turns out that Mr. Whitehead’s biggest concern appears to be gentrification, as the native New Yorker revealed in an interview on NPR’s Morning Edition today.
New York is always destroyed. Giuliani, Bloomberg—they got rid of the old New York. I think each time you destroy a tenement and put up a luxury tower, you’re ruining New York and making some sort of a new version of the city.
I’m walking around with my idea of what New York was 30 years ago, 20 years ago. So is everybody else. And we superimpose that ruined city over what’s here now. So it’s cleaned up, but we’re still seeing that old shoe store, dry cleaners, that old apartment where we used to live. So, any street you walk down in New York is a heap of rubble because that’s sort of how we see it if we’ve been here a while.
So artistically, it was about time for me to take a stab at my hometown.
Who knew the answer to our affordable housing dilemma was a simple zombie plague?