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Who is Arthur Nersesian?

Garry Crystal
Garry Crystal

Arthur Nersesian is a writer who first came to the attention of the public with his novel The F***-Up, published in 1997. The book was first published by Akashic Press, a small literary publishing house. MTV books quickly picked up on the book, and it became an underground classic. Arthur Nersesian is considered the definitive writer on the life of the struggling artist in New York, specifically in the East Village area.

Arthur Nersesian had been writing about the East Village for many years before finding literary success. During the 1980s and 90s, he edited a literary magazine called The Portable Lower East Side. The magazine focused on all things artistic concerning the East Village. Copies of the magazine can still be found with some careful scouring of eBay.

The narrator of Arthur Nersesian's famous novel "The F***-Up" ends up homeless.
The narrator of Arthur Nersesian's famous novel "The F***-Up" ends up homeless.

Although Nersesian is regarded as an underground, cult writer, his writing and voice are accessible to anyone who has struggled for something he or she believes in. The F***-up is a tale of a wannabe writer trying to make his way through New York in the 1980s. Although published by MTV books, it is regarded by many as literary masterpiece of storytelling, starting with the breakdown of a relationship and ending with narrator homeless on the streets of New York.

Nersesian's writing is both realistic in tone, while maintaining humor, and an acute observation of the competitiveness and narcissism of writers. Writer's Block, a play in his book East Village Tetralogy, perfectly captures the jealousy and desperation of the unpublished writer. Although the name Arthur Nersesian has become synonymous with the life of the struggling artist in New York, the author has since branched out with his novels. Manhattan Loverboy, published in 2000, is a twisted, surreal, Kafkaesque story. It attacks some of the modern aspects of life in New York.

Suicide Casanova (2005) is a dark, multi-layered, tragic love story. It concerns a man who, after killing his wife, becomes obsessed with a porn star and her real life. With Suicide Casanova, Arthur Nersesian has upped the stakes in his writing. Gone are the likable loser characters that inhabit earlier Arthur Nersesian novels. Instead, the reader is given a tour of people that most wouldn't want anywhere near their life.

Until recently, Arthur Nersesian taught at a school in the South Bronx. He now dedicates most of his time to his novels. Other books by Arthur Nersesian include Dogrun, Chinese Takeout, and Unlubricated.

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Discussion Comments


I have never heard of this writer but I empathize a lot with stories of struggling artists. I tried for years to get a novel published and could never find a publisher who was interested. Faced with either abandoning the novel or self publishing I chose to give up. Maybe not my proudest decision but it's one that I made.


I just finished reading his novel Mesopotamia. It was something I picked up randomly off of the library shelves but I loved it. It had a lot of style and humor and was in it's own way unlike any other crime novel I've ever read.

I will definitely be looking into more of his stuff. i love crime and detective fiction but so much of it is cliched and formulaic. It can be hard to find a writer who is pushing the boundaries.

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    • The narrator of Arthur Nersesian's famous novel "The F***-Up" ends up homeless.
      By: stockbksts
      The narrator of Arthur Nersesian's famous novel "The F***-Up" ends up homeless.