Join us on Thursday, April 4th at 6:00 p.m. for a reading and discussion with Gary Zebrun, author of Hart Island.
Hart Island by Gary Zebrun
“Beautiful, atmospheric, cunningly plotted. From the opening pages, I was transported into Sal Cusumano’s world as he makes his way back and forth to Hart Island, between the living and the dead. I couldn’t wait to discover what would happen next in this world full of violence and unexpected tenderness.”—Margot Livesey, author of The Road from Belhaven
Hart Island has served as a potter’s field for more than a century, holding over a million indigent, unclaimed, or unknown New Yorkers’ bodies—and yet it is little-known even among locals. In this absorbing and elegiac story, on this island shaped like a miniature boot of Italy, Gary Zebrun explores overlapping connections of sexuality, family, crime, and morality. Driven out of the Coast Guard during the days of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Sal Cusumano hauls coffins to Hart Island with a burial crew of Rikers Island inmates and guards. Only there can he fully leave his family troubles on Staten Island behind: Justin, his adopted brother and lover;
his mother, Ida, slipping rapidly into dementia; the memory of Francesco, his father, a bookie gunned down on his stoop; and his brother Antony, a Manhattan homicide detective moonlighting with the mob. But the island ceases to be his sanctuary after Antony ensnares him—and others—in a crime that involves a nocturnal visit to the potter’s field.
This compelling and intricately plotted novel moves through the shadows as its characters yearn for belonging and forgiveness. Set on the eve of the COVID pandemic, it is part love story, part crime novel, and part mystery.
Gary Zebrun is a writer who lives in Providence, Rhode Island. His first novel, Someone You Know, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. He is the recipient of Yaddo, MacDowell, and Breadloaf fellowships and
has published work in the New York Times, the New Republic, the Iowa Review, and elsewhere.