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Last Exit to Brooklyn


Summary of "Last Exit to Brooklyn" by Hubert Selby Jr.


"Last Exit to Brooklyn," a groundbreaking novel by Hubert Selby Jr., presents a vivid and unflinching portrayal of life in postwar America. This seminal work captures the struggles of the powerless, homeless, and dispossessed in a society riddled with inequality and despair​【oaicite:3】​.

Key Themes and Characters

  • Controversy and Raw Realism: The novel, known for its controversial and raw depiction of society, dives into the lives of New Yorkers facing the harshest realities of human nature. It alternates between moments of extreme brutality and unexpected tenderness, reflecting the complex nature of human existence​【oaicite:2】​.
  • Memorable Characters: Central characters include:
    • Georgette: A transvestite who falls tragically in love with a ruthless hoodlum.
    • Tralala: A cunning prostitute exploring the depths of sexual degradation.
    • Harry: A labor strike leader masking his true desires with rough masculinity​【oaicite:1】​.

Narrative Structure

  • Loosely Connected Stories: The novel consists of a series of interconnected stories set in the tenements of Brooklyn. Each narrative varies in length and focus but collectively paints a comprehensive picture of the community.
  • Central Locations and Events:
    • The stories often revolve around a local bar, "the Greeks," which acts as a focal point for various characters and their interactions.
    • One of the longest stories, "Strike," details a tumultuous labor dispute and its profound impact on Harry, both in his marriage and his sense of self.
  • Raw and Gritty Language: Selby employs a streetwise, crude language throughout the novel, enhancing the authenticity and intensity of the stories. This language choice effectively mirrors the gritty reality of the characters' lives​【oaicite:0】​.

Impact and Legacy

"Last Exit to Brooklyn" remains a vital piece of American literature, highlighting the often unseen or ignored aspects of society. Its unapologetic honesty and unique narrative style continue to resonate with readers, making it a classic of modern literature.