The Hanging on Union Square by H.T. Tsiang
Originally self-published in 1935, H.T. Tsiang’s hallucinatory, quasi-experimental novel Hanging on Union Square explores leftist politics in Depression-era New York--an era of union busting and food lines--in an ambitious style that brilliantly blends Gertrude Stein’s playful language with the political satire of Carl Sandberg’s prose fables. It follows the peripatetic musings of a young man throughout a single day that takes him from a worker’s cafeteria to a world of dinner clubs and sexual exploitation in the highest echelons of society, and back again to the streets of Greenwich Village, where starving families rub shoulders with the recently evicted. Each chapter comprises a single hour of the day. Tsiang’s style combines satirical allegory with snatches of poetry, newspaper quotations, non-sequiturs and slogans, as well as elements of classical and contemporary Chinese literature. Adventurous and unclassifiable in its combination of avant-garde and proletarian concerns, Hanging on Union Square is a major rediscovery of a uniquely American voice.