Capital:New York, Capital of the 20th Century

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Acclaimed artist Kenneth Goldsmith’s thousand-page beautiful homage to New York City

Here is a kaleidoscopic assemblage and poetic history of New York: an unparalleled and original homage to the city, composed entirely of quotations. Drawn from a huge array of sources—histories, memoirs, newspaper articles, novels, government documents, emails—and organized into interpretive categories that reveal the philosophical architecture of the city, Capital is the ne plus ultra of books on the ultimate megalopolis.

It is also a book of experimental literature that transposes Walter Benjamin’s unfinished magnum opus of literary montage on the modern city, The Arcades Project, from 19th-century Paris to 20th-century New York, bringing the streets to life in categories such as “Sex,” “Commodity,” “Downtown,” “Subway,” and “Mapplethorpe.”

Capital is a book designed to fascinate and to fail—for can a megalopolis truly be written? Can a history, no matter how extensive, ever be comprehensive? Each reading of this book, and of New York, is a unique and impossible passage.


  • Capital scintillates … Goldsmith has produced a book that reminds us how close we can still get, via the labour of sound and thought and syntax, to the rhythms of a real city.

    Brian DillonGuardian
  • Goldsmith's material, unmistakably real, refuses to remain in a literary frame.

  • [Goldsmith] gives you the feel of what it is like to be living in New York now.

    Marjorie PerloffNew Yorker