In ‘Morningside Heights,’ Illness Tests a Mind and a Marriage

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By Jean Hanff Korelitz

By Joshua Henkin

For a certain species of novel, only a self-identified New Yorker is truly the beshert reader. Any book, of course, may be read from Nome to Far Tortuga, but these novels reserve their deepest layers of splendor for someone most likely to be turning its pages on the 1 train, or over elephant ears at the Hungarian Pastry Shop, or at least remembering those very pleasures from far afield. I have always had a special fondness for these books, which have reliably come from writers like Cathleen Schine and Cheryl Mendelson (whose wonderful trilogy of Columbia University-adjacent novels begins with one also titled “Morningside Heights”), and I’m pleased to usher Joshua Henkin’s most recent book into this small but cherished enclosure. His story of a brilliant Shakespearean and his wife — once his student — radiates a tenderness for the city that we, his intended readers, can best appreciate — perhaps now most of all, as we ask our city to return to us.

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