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Who is Arthur Nersesian?

Arthur Nersesian is an American novelist celebrated for his vivid portrayal of New York City's urban landscape. His works, including the cult classic "The Fuck-Up," resonate with readers through their gritty realism and compelling narratives. His storytelling captures the city's pulsating energy, often exploring themes of alienation and the quest for identity. What might his stories reveal about your own urban experiences?
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 Writer's Block, a play in his book East Village Tetralogy, perfectly captures the jealousy and desperation of the unpublished writer.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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Arthur Nersesian?

Arthur Nersesian is an American novelist, playwright, and poet, best known for his works that often explore themes of urban despair and the challenges of life in New York City. His most famous novel, "The Fuck-Up," has garnered a cult following for its gritty portrayal of a down-and-out protagonist navigating the complexities of existence in the city. Nersesian's writing is characterized by its dark humor and vivid depiction of the urban landscape.

What are some of Arthur Nersesian's most notable works?

Aside from "The Fuck-Up," Arthur Nersesian has penned several other notable works. These include "Chinese Takeout," which won the American Book Award, and "The Swing Voter of Staten Island," the first book in the Five Books of Moses series. His other works, such as "Dogrun" and "Unlubricated," also reflect his distinctive voice and his ability to capture the essence of New York City life.

What themes does Arthur Nersesian typically explore in his writing?

Arthur Nersesian's writing frequently delves into themes of alienation, survival, and the human experience within the urban jungle of New York City. His characters often grapple with poverty, identity crises, and the search for meaning in a chaotic world. Nersesian's novels are known for their raw and honest portrayal of the city's underbelly, as well as their exploration of the complexities of human relationships.

Has Arthur Nersesian received any awards or recognition for his work?

Yes, Arthur Nersesian has received recognition for his literary contributions. His novel "Chinese Takeout" won the American Book Award, which celebrates excellence in American literature and acknowledges the diversity of the country's literary community. This award is a testament to Nersesian's talent and the impact of his work on readers and critics alike.

How has Arthur Nersesian's background influenced his writing?

Arthur Nersesian's Armenian-American heritage and his upbringing in New York City have significantly influenced his writing. The city's vibrant, yet often harsh, urban landscape serves as a backdrop for many of his stories. His characters' struggles with identity and belonging may also reflect Nersesian's own experiences with cultural duality. This personal connection to the city and its myriad stories imbues his work with authenticity and depth.

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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.