Lucy Lethbridge

The Pied Piper of Manhattan

Rats: A Year with New York’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants


Granta Books 243pp £12 order from our bookshop

In New York City, the rat exterminator (nowadays probably known as the Pest Control Manager) is as necessary a component of city life as the plumber, the electrician or the shrink. But to those who have never found a rat skulking, red-eyed and yellow-toothed, behind their bathroom pipes, there is probably something amusing about the job, something faintly ridiculous about the exterminator’s unending battle against a scuttling rodent as long as his forearm. Until we meet the foe eye to eye that is – and our stomachs churn at thought of their teeming breeding-grounds in our attics, and their endlessly gnawing incisors shredding our carpets and our cables. In fact, the rat exterminator is the modern urban equivalent of the dragon slayer.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,
    • 'Munch’s later works show us a man liberated from the torments that gave rise to some of the best-known early works… ,