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Nersesian, Arthur

(1958-    ) US poet and author whose novels have focused on a surreal vision of New York; the first few of these, especially The Fuck-Up (1997), tend to follow dissident outcasts through exorbitant storylines without severely transgressing the technically possible (see Equipoise), but the Five Books of Moses sequence, comprising The Swing Voter of Staten Island (2007) and The Sacrificial Circumcision of the Bronx (2008) to date, can be understood in terms of a gonzo Alternate History in which, after the Disaster that destroyed the original city, New York is now an artificial City originally constructed by the military in World War Two in Nevada as a convenient focus for training exercises; half a century later it has become a sink-hole where anyone who fails to fit into the larger American world is dumped. The protagonist's Amnesia suggests that all-encompassing Paranoia might be useful in attempting to understand the engines of this world; but little comes of this. The overall title is a reference to Robert Moses (1888-1981), whose car-oriented transformation of the five boroughs of New York came close to destroying them, and who features in the second volume. Nersesian's Satirical thrusts are sometimes ill-targeted, but never fail in passion; and his vision of New York as hell-hole and omphalos is strongly conveyed. [JC]

Arthur Nersesian

born New York: 12 November 1958



Five Books of Moses

individual titles (selected)


Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 16:27 pm on 23 May 2022.