Ivy Pochoda

Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda, July 2013

Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda
  • “Visitation Street is urban opera writ large. Gritty and magical, filled with mystery, poetry and pain, Ivy Pochoda’s voice recalls Richard Price, Junot Diaz, and even Alice Sebold, yet it’s indelibly her own.” —Dennis Lehane
  • “Pochoda’s premise is inspired, the novel that unfolds even more so. Rich characters, surprising shifts of plot and mood. I loved it.” —Lionel Shriver, award winning author of We Need to Talk About Kevin
  • “Visitation Street explores a community’s response to tragedy with crystalline prose, a dose of the uncanny, and an unblinking eye for both human frailty and resilience. Marvelous.” —Deborah Harkness, bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches
  • “Ivy Pochoda makes the saltiness of Brooklyn’s Red Hook come to life so vividly that every time I looked up from the pages of this intoxicating novel, I was surprised not to be there. Visitation Street is imbued with mystery and danger.” —Emma Straub, author of Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures
  • “Visitation Street [is] beautiful, haunting. Ivy Pochoda brings forth the full palette of human emotions in this gripping urban drama, a story that hurts you on one page and gives you hope on the next. A marvelous novel.” —Michael Koryta, award winning author of So Cold the River
Ivy Pochoda

Summer in Red Hook, Brooklyn, an isolated blue-collar neighborhood where hipster gourmet supermarkets push against tired housing projects and the East River opens into the bay. Bored and listless, fifteen-year-olds June and Val are looking for fun. Forget the boys, the bottles, the coded whistles. Val wants to do something wild and a little crazy: take a raft out onto the bay. But on the water during the humid night, the girls disappear. Only Val survives, washing ashore in the weeds, bruised and unconscious. Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Visitation Street >


About Ivy

Ivy Pochoda is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Visitation Street published by Ecco / Dennis Lehane Books. Visitation Street was chosen as an Amazon Best Book of the Month, Amazon Best Book of 2013, and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Huffington Post, Self, and House & Garden. Her first novel The Art of Disappearing, was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2009. She has a BA from Harvard College in Classical Greek and an MFA from Bennington College in fiction. Ivy grew up in Brooklyn, NY and currently lives in downtown Los Angeles with her husband Justin Nowell.

Interviews with Ivy Pochoda
+ Los Angeles Times
+ LA Weekly
+ Kansas City Star

Ivy PochodaIvy Pochoda
Ivy’s Squash profile >

Contact Ivy

The Art of Disappearing by Ivy PochodaThe Art of Disappearing
St. Martin’s Griffin
US $14.99
ISBN-10: 0-312-65099-X
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-65099-5
Publication Date: Sept. 28, 2010
Buy this book >
Visitation Street by Ivy PochodaVisitation Street
Dennis Lehane Books
US $25.99
ISBN-10: 0-062-24989-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-062-24989-0
Publication Date: July 9, 2013
Buy this book >

Ivy Pochoda's Calendar & Tour Dates


Visitation Street, Chapter 1 Excerpt

Visitation Street by Ivy PochodaSummer is everybody else’s party. It belongs to the recently arrived hipsters in their beat-up sneakers and paint-splattered jeans spilling out of the bar down the block. It belongs to Puerto Rican families with foil trays of meat, sending charcoal smoke signals into the air, even to the old men in front of the VFW, sitting out, watching the neighborhood pass them by.

Val and June lie on Val’s bed on the second floor of her parents’ house on Visitation. The girls are waiting for the night to take shape, watching the facing row of neat three-story brick houses.

Although June has the phone numbers of twenty boys in her cell, ten she’d willingly kiss and ten she swears are dying to kiss her, the girls are alone. June’s been scrolling through her phonebook looking for someone she’s missed, her polished nail clicking against the screen. If she keeps this up, the battery will be dead by midnight, which is what Val’s hoping for.

The girls spent another day working at Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary day care, watching the summer escape while they tended a bunch of babies. they missed the community pool and the open fire hydrants. They missed sitting on the stoop in their bikinis. They missed the shift from afternoon to evening, the gradual migration from hanging out to going out. Still, they made a little cash for when they are old enough to spend it on something interesting. But at fifteen, all the interesting stuff seems beyond their grasp.

This is one of the nice streets in Red Hook, tree lined and residential, on the predominantly white waterside of the neighborhood. Cut off by the expressway from the stately brownstone-lined streets of Carroll Gardens, Red Hook is a mile-long spit stranded at the southern point of Brooklyn where the East River opens into the bay. In the middle of the neighborhood sits Coffey Park, which splits the “front” with its decaying and disused waterfront from the fortress of housing projects and low-cost supermarkets at the “back.”

All around the girls the night is heating up. The stoops are filling, some with newcomers dressed in secondhand clothes, others with grizzled men sucking air through their teeth as if this might cool things down. It’s a hot night in a calendar of hot weeks. The community pool has been packed, its surrounding concrete a mosaic of bright towels. The local firehouses, the Red Hook raiders and the Happy Hookers, have been clocking overtime, circling the neighborhood to shut off illegally opened hydrants, telling kids to go cool off elsewhere. People have been doing their best to stay out of each other’s way. By this point in the summer everyone’s developed a beat-the-heat routine—a soaked do-rag tied around a scalp, a tiny fan held inches from a nose, a cold beer cracked before lunch.


News & Reviews

  • “Lehane’s choice of Visitation Street seems to exemplify the oft-quoted adage that all novels are mysteries, since Visitation Street’s pleasures buck the genre’s typical focus on cops and robbers and instead explores the mysteries that link a community, examining the way in which tragedy shifts our perceptions of our neighbors and ourselves.” Los Angeles Review of Books
  • “After reading Ivy Pochoda’s masterful debut novel, it’s clear why Dorchester-born mystery writer Dennis Lehane (“Mystic River”) chose to publish VISITATION STREET under his eponymous imprint. Pochoda shares Lehane’s unique ability to bring gritty urban streetscapes to life, depicting hardscrabble characters with dignity, even redemption.” The Boston Globe
  • “VISITATION STREET is an impressive entry into the field.” The New York Times
  • “VISITATION STREET is no conventional whodunit. Cops pop in and out, but the answers, when they come, are homegrown and completely satisfying- just one more touch of magic in Pochoda’s utterly transporting novel.” People’s “Pick of the Week”
  • “An in-depth exploration of both human nature and a Brooklyn neighborhood, VISITATION STREET is a poignant read. “ Brooklyn Daily Eagle
  • “A literary mystery, Pochoda’s story weaves through the haunting atmosphere of Red Hook, where drugs, drinking and violence dominate the streets. Truths about Red Hook are cleverly hidden throughout the novel, allowing the reader to determine which characters can be trusted. Full of vivid imagery and striking characters, VISITATION STREET ends with a bang you won’t want to miss.” Bookpage
  • “[A] stunning new novel…wonderful. VISITATION STREET is urgent and feeling and so well told. Beautifully written, too.” New York Daily News
  • Mystic River fans shouldn’t miss Ivy Pochoda’s scenic VISITATION STREET.” Vogue.com
  • “This stylishly gritty mystery probes the mechanics of forgiveness, the burdens and blessings of family, and the inner workings of a neighborhood bracing for gentrification.” Real Simple
  • “Wonderfully written characters.” New York Post
  • “Impressive and atmospheric…[Pochoda] writes in an urgent yet eloquent style, and she offers poignant insights into these characters as they hope and fail and struggle on. But what’s most haunting is her searing, all-too-familiar portrait of a community bitterly divided by the usual suspects of American unrest — race, poverty, culture, drugs.” Miami Herald
  • “An exceptional debut with an equally keen sense of place and its response to a tragedy. … In an interview for GalleyCat when his imprint was announced, Lehane said his overarching criterion for choosing books is an ‘enthralling story gracefully told.’ Pochoda’s book is that and more. It’s a bold novel told with striking intimacy from multiple points of view and it bristles with restrained suspense.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • “Evocative, engrossing and creepy. Her characters are intriguingly flawed, and we are eager to learn their secrets. But the novel’s best-drawn character is Red Hook, the Brooklyn neighborhood where the story takes place. After a couple of pages, even Iowans who’ve never set foot in New York City will be transported…. The novel’s qualified success owes much to its strong sense of place. In a thriller-saturated market, the almost-too-vivid syrupy heat and vinegar garbage smells of its Red Hook summer are what make “Visitation Street” stand out…. The desire to know what happened to June may be what leads you to pick this book up in the first place, but it’s not why you won’t be able to put it down. That I was more curious about who these characters would reveal themselves to be than I was about what they had or hadn’t done is a testament to Ms. Pochoda’s descriptive powers… a large part of the book’s appeal lies in [Pochoda’s] physical descriptions, which are fresh and arresting… There is a rhythm and a musicality to Ms. Pochoda’s sentences that is no less enchanting for being intentional.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  • “Ivy Pochoda comes well-recommended. Her sophomore effort (after The Art of Disappearing) appears under the imprint of best-selling crime novelist Dennis Lehane, who, as the author of Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, Shutter Island and other tales, knows something about how good stories get put together. And a good story this is — or, rather, several good stories intertwined. Set in the gritty, slow-to-gentrify waterfront neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn, which Life magazine called “America’s crack capital” in the 1980s, Visitation Street contains elements of both mystery and ghost story. But thanks to Pochoda’s lucid style and her gift for psychological exploration, the novel transcends genre to become a poignant chronicle of loss, isolation and the human need to wrest meaning from the senseless workings of chance…. an urban drama with shocking secrets at its heart.” Dallas Morning News
  • “VISITATION STREET is a quiet, literary thriller told in lyrical, exacting prose. It’s in the vein of Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History” or Alice Sebold’s “The Lovely Bones” in that a single, tragic event sends ripples through a community and character exploration carries the narrative.” Los Angeles Times
  • “Some mysteries get called page-turners only because the writing’s so bad. You read them at a breakneck pace, but for the same reasons you speed on highways: It’s all about getting there, and there’s not a damn thing to look at along the way. In that sense, Ivy Pochoda’s VISITATION STREET is not actually a page-turner. Skimming it would be a crime. Pochoda’s novel was handpicked by Dennis Lehane for his imprint at Ecco Books, and you can see, inside a few gravely tense and beautiful pages, why he fell for it. …The strongest pull here is not the mystery but the humanely drawn cast of neighborhood characters.” Entertainment Weekly, A-
  • “A powerfully beautiful novel.” New York Times Book Review
  • “This (Visitation Street) could be the summer’s fastest page-turner… Perfect for people who like their suspense smart.” The Atlantic Wire
  • “[VISITATION STREET] is buoyed by well-fleshed-out characters and eerie atmosphere.” Chicago Tribune
  • “For the past few weeks, I’ve been traipsing across the New York City of yesteryear with detective Matthew Scudder in Lawrence Block’s Eight Million Ways to Die and A Walk Among the Tombstones. I love the PI’s street-level approach to crime solving, whether he’s casing a Flatbush brownstone, cabbing it over the Williamsburg Bridge, or accompanying a pimp to a secret Greenpoint getaway. This summer, I’ll be pounding the pavement of my new neck of the woods—Red Hook, Brooklyn—with Ivy Pochoda’s Visitation Street. What better way to get to know the neighborhood and usher in the summer than to unravel a mystery set just beyond your own stoop?” Samuel R. Slaton, reviews editor, Publishers Weekly
  • “It is partly because of Dennis Lehane that I wrote my first book Sharp Objects.  After reading his book Mystic River I was like, Oh- that’s how that’s done. I really admire his whole body of work. That’s why I’m excited about Ivy Pochoda, whom he picked for his new book imprint.  You know that if he’s given her his stamp of approval, the book is going to be good, and with the setting of Red Hook, Brooklyn, that it’s going to have a true, strong sense of place.” Gillian Flynn, O, The Oprah Magazine
  • “Blue-collar Red Hook, a section of Brooklyn’s waterfront in rough transition, becomes one big outdoor theater as temperatures rise in Pochoda’s beyond-category urban drama…. The mysteries of sexuality, guilt, race and class conflicts, artistic pursuits, and psychic abilities are all in play as Pochoda transforms Red Hook into a microcosm of human longing. With prose as cleansing and propelling as a sea breeze, and characters running like strong currents, Pochoda pulls us deeply into this transfixing tale of visitations both alarming and liberating.” Booklist (STARRED REVIEW)
  • “Exquisitely written, Pochoda’s poignant second novel examines how residents of Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood deal with grief, urban development, loss, and teenage angst. In a fit of boredom, 15-year-old best friends Val Marino and June Giatto take a raft out on the bay one July evening, but only Val returns, her unconscious body washed up on the shore. June’s disappearance and what might have happened on the raft become the linchpin for Fadi, a Lebanese native who wants his bodega to be the pulse of neighborhood news; Jonathan Sprouse, a Julliard dropout with dark secrets; and 18-year-old Cree James, a kid from the projects who longs for a better life but remains stymied by his father’s murder. Pochoda (The Art of Disappearing) couples a raw-edged, lyrical look at characters’ innermost fears with an evocative view of Red Hook, a traditionally working-class area of Brooklyn undergoing gentrification that still struggles with racism and the aftermath of drug violence. By the end, the gap between “the front” of Red Hook with its well-tended streets near the waterfront and “the back” with its housing projects remains wide.” Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)
  • “The book is rich with characters and mood and will make readers feel like they’ve walked the streets of Red Hook. Everyone in the story deserves a measure of sympathy, from the girls on the raft to the shoplifting teenager to the pathetic uncle who won’t tell anyone anything for free. Red Hook itself feels like a character—hard-worn, isolated from the rest of New York, left behind and forgotten. A terrific story in the vein of Dennis Lehane’s fiction.” Kirkus (STARRED REVIEW)
  • “It’s easy to see why [Dennis Lehane] is throwing his significant weight behind [Pochoda’s] work. Set in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, the novel opens on a warm summer evening when 15-year-old Val and June push a small pink raft onto the bay and set sail. Only Val makes it back to shore, and the resulting drama unspools as readers meet a full cast of utterly believable characters… It’s an opera set in one small community, and as Val struggles to cope with the loss of her friend and the neighborhood characters play their parts, large and small, Pochoda’s riveting prose will keep readers enthralled until the final page. Verdict: The prose is so lyrical and detailed that readers will easily imagine themselves in Red Hook. A great read for those who enjoy urban mysteries and thrillers with a literary flair.” Library Journal (STARRED REVIEW)


Ivy Pochoda
Ashley Garland
Harper Collins
10 East 53rd St
New York, NY 10022
P: 212.207.7582
Kimberly Witherspoon
Inkwell Management
521 Fifth Ave, 26th Fl
New York, NY 10175
P: 212.922.3500 | F: 212.922.0535
Shari Smiley, The Gotham Group
9255 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90069
P (direction): 424-288-5492
P (main): 310-285-0001
© 2013 Ivy Pochoda. All rights reserved. Designed by Dolly Li.