Pelham Bay writer’s first novel addresses gentrification

A well-established author from the borough has just published his first novel dealing with a timely theme.

Richie Narvaez, a Pelham Bayite who is both a college writing teacher and an author, has just completed work on his first novel, the forthcoming ‘Hipster Death Rattle,’ due out in March.

The mystery novel takes place in the Williamsburg, Brooklyn of yesteryear, as gentrification starts to take hold of the community and a serial killer is on the loose who is going after hipsters, yuppies and artistic-types who are clashing with the more established Puerto Rican and ethnic European communities, said Narvaez.

The story has a cast of characters who reflect the beautiful mosaic of New York’s diverse neighborhoods, according to the author.

The novel’s protagonist is slacker indie journalist Tony ‘Chino’ Moran who is drawn into the mystery of the crimes that his ex-girlfriend Magali Fernandez encourages him to investigate.

“(Moran) is a hack reporter who doesn’t want to do anything interesting in terms of his work,” said the author. “But thinking about his mother’s memory helps him get involved because it is an elderly woman who disappears, and Magali really pushes him into an investigation.”

The narrative also follows two police investigators, detectives Petrosino and Hadid, the latter of whom is from our borough, as they work to solve the crimes and bring the perpetrator to justice.

Narvaez said that he grew up in Williamsburg, and that much of the community as it is portrayed in ‘Hipster Death Rattle’ is the way it was when he lived there – during the height of its transformation from what was primarily an ethnic community into a trendy neighborhood.

The author, who currently teaches creative and business writing at S.U.N.Y. Fashion Institute of Technology after being an educator at several other colleges, said he moved to our borough because his wife Denise is from Bruckner Boulevard.

He feels his novel’s theme of gentrification is timely, especially since he said he thinks that many communities in the southern and northern parts of the Bronx are starting to experience it.

“There has been a concern about overdevelopment since the early 2000s (in my own community) and it is happening in the south Bronx with parts of it being rebranded ‘SoBro,’” he said.

Narvaez has been the Bronx Council on the Art’s Artist in Residence at the Morris Park Library since October 2018, where he is running a creative writing workshop one day a week, and said he has a lot of retirees he is mentoring in creative writing.

“I have a lovely group that meets there,” said Narvaez. “I try to give them some tips and lessons, and they are slowly moving towards publication.”

He is also a judge for the prestigious 2019 PEN Open Book Awards, and published his first collection of short stories in 2013.

The collection, called ‘Roachkiller and Other Stories,’ received the 2013 Spinetingler Award for Best Anthology/Short Story Collection.

Narvaez is also a board member of the Mystery Writers of America.

‘Hipster Death Rattle,’ from Down and Out Books, is available for pre-order in print and Kindle format through Amazon.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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