New York is the city that never sleeps. But this renowned insomnia would not be possible without the more than 200,000 men and women who work the nightshift – the fry cooks and coffee jockeys, train conductors and cab hacks, cops, docs, and fishmongers selling cod by the crate. Inverting the natural rhythm of life, they keep the city running as it slows but never stops.

In our book, NIGHTSHIFT NYC, we tell the stories of New York City nightshift workers. This ethnography of the night investigates familiar sites, such as diners, delis and taxis, as well as some unexpected corners of the night, such as a walking tour of homelessness in Manhattan and a fishing boat out of Brooklyn. We show how the nightshift is more than simply out of phase, it is another social space altogether, highly structured, inherently subversive, and shot through with inequalities of power. NIGHTSHIFT NYC presents the narratives of those who sleep too little and work too much, revealing the soul of a city hidden in the graveyard shift of 24-hour commerce when the sun goes down and the lights come up.

But there is more to the story than found its way into the pages of the book. Here you'll find more stories of the night in New York City and around the country. And we hope you will add your own stories and comments in the months to come. Stay tuned and check back often...

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Review Is In...

We won't normally fill these posts with self-congratulations, but... Today we received the advance copies of the book, and they look great. We also got news of our first review. The book won't be on shelves for another two months, so here's a preview of what at least one objective reader thinks of it:

LIBRARY JOURNAL, September 1, 2008

Through conversations over the course of a year with hospital workers, cab drivers, restaurant employees, deckhands, bodega owners, transit workers, homeless outreach service providers, and others who, by choice or necessity, are awake while the rest of us sleep, the authors examine the "social space" of the night. The personal stories capture the peculiar mood of the night shift, from the dangers of working behind a deli counter or the wheel of a taxi when the customers are often drunk and ornery, to the camaraderie of diner and hospital workers who bond together during the dark hours. Almost universally, the night shift workers claim to lack sufficient sleep and suffer health effects from their schedules. Russell Leigh Sharman (anthropology, Brooklyn Coll.; The Tenants of East Harlem) and Cheryl Harris Sharman, a writer and researcher, contextualize the personal anecdotes of their subjects by seamlessly weaving into the narrative pertinent data on the economy, transportation, health, industry, crime, labor, homelessness, immigration, and New York City history. This well-researched volume is illustrated by atmospheric black-and-white photographs. Recommended for public and academic libraries. -Donna L. Davey, NYU Lib.

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