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.