The Irrational Allure of Writers’ Houses*

*Adapted for Literary Traveler from the Introduction to A Skeptic’s Guide To Writers’ Houses

By Anne Trubek

Around the time the housing collapse hit New York City, a modest one bedroom apartment came up for sale on the Lower East Side. ‘‘How quiet, serene, and wonderful is this 1-bedroom apartment with balcony?’’ the real estate ad asked. ‘‘So quiet, serene and wonderful that one of the top 5 best novels of 2006 . . . was written here!’’

The novel was Absurdistan, the writer Gary Shteyngart, a rising literary star who was born in Leningrad in 1972 and then immigrated to New York a...

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