New Yorkers must choose between the city and reality in ‘The Exiles’

Allison Lynn's "The Exiles" wrestles with separating yourself from the place you love.
Allison Lynn’s “The Exiles” wrestles with separating yourself from the place you love.

Thousands of people come to New York every year. They swear they will never leave. Then, a few years down the road, they meet someone. They have a child. And suddenly paying $4,000 a month for a one-bedroom doesn’t seem so attractive anymore.

But where do you go when a city has captured your heart? When it is as much as a part of your relationship as your partner? For Nate and Emily, the protagonists of Alison Lynn’s evocative new novel, “The Exiles,” they flee to Rhode Island. But as soon as they get there (along with their 10-month-old child), they quickly discover all is not as postcard perfect as they dreamed their new life would be.

For Lynn, the experience of writing “The Exiles” was a case of life imitating art. “When I began writing the book, I thought I was someone who would be in New York forever; that the strain wasn’t going to get to me. And a few early drafts into writing the book, my life started to parallel theirs. It was slightly spooky.”

Like Nate and Emily, Lynn and her husband were priced out of the city once they had a child; after a job offer came in, they decided to “take up stakes to move.”

There are many subjects at play in “The Exiles:” Being priced out of a city despite your Wall Street salary, bombshell secrets that both Nate and Emily keep from one another, old familial drama and the strain of parenthood in our materialistic age. But for Lynn, the story kept coming back to “the disparities between the haves and the almost-haves,” she says about the book’s main theme. “The people who all their lives thought they are going to break into that upper income bracket, and reach their late 30s and discover it may never happen.”

Lynn says that her family’s move to Indianapolis has gone much more smoothly than Nate and Emily’s relocation to Newport. “We had a much smoother transition in just about every way,” she laughs. “I’d like to think that we aren’t keeping secrets from each other, the way they were.”

And yet — she can’t shake New York. “It is still where I considered home, and it’s the place where when my plane lands, I drive in, I still felt like I am back home. We dream of moving back. But we have to dream of that lottery ticket first.”

“The Exiles” book launch with Allison Lynn
Wednesday, 7 p.m.
The Powerhouse Arena
37 Main St., Brooklyn
www.powerhousearena.com


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