Nominated for a Commonwealth Writers Prize, a Toronto Book Award and an Amazon.ca First Novel Award.
March 6, 1934. Hundreds gather outside City Hall to celebrate the Toronto Centenary. In the crowd, pickpocket Mona Kantor and her partner, Chesler, are “in the tip,” finding easy pickings among the jostling masses. Eli Morenz, city man for the Daily Star, is covering the festivities and uncovering the pickpocket racket working the scene. A surreptitious photo and some keen research lead him to an underworld dive in Kensington Market where Toronto’s pickpockets converge – and to Mona.
Moving from a tense newsroom on King Street to the frenetic grift at Union Station, The City Man is a romance that begins in an instant and careens towards peril. Akler’s prose is as deft as a thief’s fingers, as precise and powerful as a heavyweight’s punch. Packed with enchanting, arcane period slang and comparable in its evocation of a lost Toronto to Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion, this is a novel of exceptional grace, excitement and beauty.
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Howard Akler was born in Toronto in 1969 and is the author of The City Man, originally published by Coach House Books and published in audio by ECW Press. The City Man was nominated for the Amazon First Novel Award, the City of Toronto Book Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize. Akler currently lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Published: December 2019
Originally published by Coach House Books
“The City Man is a fast and iridescent look at the world of big-city pickpockets circa 1934 ... Akler delivers the goods with originality and flare, with language as gorgeous as a Jean Harlow pin-up and dialogue sharper than a burst from a Thompson submachine gun.”– The Globe and Mail
“Crafted period piece, sly crime novel, nouveau noir, edgy love story – this wonderful first novel outs not only its tremendously gifted author, but the city of Toronto itself. If Akler’s deft dance of pickpockets, hacks, cops, suckers, ‘stalls’ and ‘cannons’ stands at odds with the stale-bread image of Toronto the Good, that’s the idea. Who knew hard-boiled fiction could sidestep its own clichés so effortlessly?” – Kevin Connolly