Lush Life (novel)

Lush Life is a contemporary social novel by Richard Price. It is Price's eighth novel, and was published in 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Lush Life
Cover to first edition hardcover of Lush Life.
AuthorRichard Price
CountryUnited States
PublisherFarrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date
March 4, 2008
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages464 pp
813/.54 22
LC ClassPS3566.R544 L89 2008
Preceded bySamaritan 

Plot summary

The book is set in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and begins with a crime that at first seems straightforward, but quickly expands into a thicket of complications. On the way home from a night of drinking, three men—cafe manager Eric Cash, bartender Ike Marcus, and a friend of Marcus'—are accosted by two muggers.[1] Marcus is shot and killed, in a manner echoing the real-life murder of Nicole duFresne.[2] NYPD Detective Matty Clark winds up investigating the crime, and keeping an eye on Ike's distraught father Billy, whose behavior becomes increasingly erratic. Cash is initially arrested for the crime, but later released when the accounts of other witnesses back up his own; his own behavior is affected as he has difficulty coping with the memory of the incident and the stresses of the police interrogation. Interwoven with the main plot are vignettes of the Lower East Side and the waves of immigrants that have come through there and lived in its tenements over the years.


The novel received mostly rave reviews from a wide variety of media sources.[3][4][5] Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times wrote that Lush Life was "a visceral, heart-thumping portrait of New York City" and "no one writes better dialogue than Richard Price—not Elmore Leonard, not David Mamet, not even David Chase."[6] The Hartford Courant praised Price's ability to "embrace irony without ever being ham-handed and to create characters who refuse to be pinned down".[7] Others called it "powerful"[8] and a "damned good book",[9] and said that "every sentence is a pleasure".[10]

Some reviewers were equally positive, but not without some reservations. Salon writer Richard B. Woodward called the book "astonishing", but "more a collection of brilliantly realistic scenes than a book with moral weight or a convincing vision of the way New York functions in the Bloomberg era".[11] The Los Angeles Times praised it as "deftly written" and "beautifully expressive", but thought that "Price can't quite bridge the gap between this social novel and the subtleties of real life".[12] The book was a finalist for both the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the PEN Literary Award.[13]

The novel gained further attention when it was revealed that US President Barack Obama would be reading it during his 2009 summer vacation.[14]


  1. Gibson, Ralph (2008-03-05). "Richard Price Details a Gritty 'Lush Life'". NPR. Retrieved 2008-03-15.
  2. "Richard Price's Lush Life Stars Turbulent LES" Archived 2008-03-09 at the Wayback Machine Gothamist. 2008-03-04.
  3. "Were We Right or Were We Right: Richard Price's Lush Life". Publishers Weekly. 2008-03-06. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2008-04-28.
  4. Kois, Dan; Brown, Lane (2008-03-04). "Richard Price on 'Lush Life,' Martin Scorsese, and Michael Jackson". New York. Retrieved 2008-04-28.
  5. Anderson, Sam (2008-03-03). "Stalking the Gramno: A book-review procedural about Richard Price's Lush Life". New York. Retrieved 2008-03-15.
  6. Kakutani, Michiko (2008-03-04). "A Kaleidoscopic Perspective on a Murder, and Dreams Lost and Found". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-15.
  7. Goldberg, Carole. "Review: 'Lush Life' by Richard Price, a mystery that shakes and stirs". The Hartford Courant. Archived from the original on 2013-02-03. Retrieved 2008-03-15.
  8. Reese, Jennifer (2008-02-28). "Review: Richard Price's Lush Life". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-04-28.
  9. Moore, Clayton (January 2008). "Richard Price and the Lush Life". Retrieved 2008-04-28.
  10. Richardson, John H (2008-02-28). "Big Important Book of the Month: Lush Life". Esquire. Retrieved 2008-04-28.
  11. Woodward, Richard B (2008-03-10). "Richard Price's criminal intelligence". Retrieved 2008-03-15.
  12. Ulin, David L (2008-03-02). "Book Review: Lush Life". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2008-05-31. Retrieved 2008-03-15.
  13. "2008 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes Winners". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2016-01-23.
  14. Flood, Alison (August 25, 2009). "Obama unpacks his holiday reading". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-08-25.
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