The trailer for City on Fire, Garth Risk Hallberg’s highly anticipated 944-page debut novel set in 1970s New York City, is finally here, and EW has your exclusive reveal above.

Hallberg, one of our Stars on the Rise for 2015, reads a poetic excerpt from the prologue (giving you a peek at the novel’s gorgeous language), while Hallberg’s good friend Hamilton Leithauser of The Walkmen, along with bandmate Paul Maroon, contributes “My Reward,” the electrifying original song that takes the trailer to its emotional zenith.

“Music, from the Flamingos to Patti Smith, saturates this book,” Hallberg tells EW. “It’s period detail, sure, but also a way to push past nostalgia. I wanted the writing, like a great rock ‘n’ roll song, to have the kind of passion that feels urgent whether it’s 1977 or 2015. And so it’s exciting to have Hamilton, who’s keeping that fire burning, lend the passion of his voice to the trailer.”

“Garth and I have known each other for a long time,” says Leithauser. “He and I had been talking about working with each other somehow. He helped me out with writing a bio for my last record, and he’s just someone I play new music for. He knows my whole musical history, and it sort of fits with the band in his book, actually.” When Hallberg heard “My Reward,” Leithauser says, “He was like, ‘That’s the one. I want that one for my book.'”

The Walkmen also figure into the text of City on Fire in a quiet way: Leithauser’s cousin Walt [Martin], another member of the band, played an organ called a Farfisa Fast 5, Hallberg says. “It has a very peculiar sound. Iit’s like a hockey rink organ,” he says. “But Walt’s a great musician, and got all these great sounds out of it, so the organ in William’s band in the book is an homage to the Farfisa Fast 5 from The Walkmen.”

City on Fire hits shelves Oct. 13, 2015.


To purchase “My Reward,” by Hamilton Leithauser and Paul Maroon, head here:

City on Fire
2015 book
  • Book