The Great Mistake | Granta

  • Published: 17/06/2021
  • ISBN: 9781783786244
  • Granta Books
  • 304 pages

The Great Mistake

Jonathan Lee

Andrew Haswell Green is dead. Shot outside his mansion on Park Avenue in the year of our lord, 1903. Born and raised in poverty, a self-made man, Green transformed the island of Manhattan, built its parks and bridges, and watched the city change from a jumbled, littered prospect to a glittering world of money and hope. But Green had a secret, a life locked within him, a life which now, in the hour of his death, may finally be about to break free.

As the detective assigned to Green’s murder chases his ghost across the city, other specters appear: a wealthy negro courtesan, a madman with a broken heart, and an ambitious lawyer whose life-long friendship with Green was the cause of all his joy and all his trouble.

Richly imagined and beautifully told, The Great Mistake is the story of a city transformed and a life curtailed, and of a murder that took a great man and made him infamous.

Jonathan Lee's wily, virtuosic, very beautiful new novel is an intimate portrait of a public man that also serves as an X-ray of America. The Great Mistake is a great novel of New York, in which the shaping of public space becomes inextricable from the loneliness, longing, and ferocious ambition of a single, damaged man

Garth Greenwell, author of, What Belongs to You

THE GREAT MISTAKE is a great novel of 19th century New York and the meaning of success, which makes the quietest moments of its hero's life as memorable as the bordellos and the murders. A magical escape from the 21st century that sent me back feeling wiser and more hopeful

Sandra Newman

A wonderful, compelling, finely-tuned and deeply loveable novel, with a central character who is all of those things too. Jonathan Lee has taken the bare facts of a nearly-forgotten life and turned them into a rich and unforgettable story, told with a relish for language and voice. Mr Andrew Haswell Green now has permanent lodgings in my brain, and very welcome he is too

Jon McGregor, author of, Reservoir 13

The Author

Jonathan Lee is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel High Dive, Joy and Who is Mr Satoshi?. He has been shortlisted for the Edinburgh Festival First Book Award the Desmond Elliott Prize for literature, and longlisted for the Sunday Times Short Story Award.

More about the author →

Jonathan Lee on

Fiction | The Online Edition

Amateur Dramatics

Jonathan Lee

‘I heard the news from a nurse with a piece of tinsel tied around her waist: my father had become a hypochondriac.’