In his international bestseller Gang Leader for a Day, an electrifying insider's study of Chicago crack gangs, pioneering sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh learned the critical lesson of urban poverty - your neighbourhood is your fate. Venkatesh arrived in New York at the turn of the new millennium expecting the same harsh certainty, but what dealer Shine shows him is something wholly unexpected: a fluid city where neighbourhoods mean nothing and networks mean everything, where the distinctions between race and class simply dissolve - a dynamic that can be found in global cities everywhere.
Venkatesh spent a decade immersed in New York's illicit underbelly, studying the call girls, drug dealers, off-the-books immigrants and strivers that make up this booming underground economy. In Floating City, he explores New York from high to low, tracing the invisible threads that bind a handful of urban hustlers, from a Harvard-educated uptown socialite running a high-end escort service to a Puerto Rican teenager trying to make the transition from prostitute to call girl with disastrous consequences. As these characters move from trust-funder cocktail parties to midtown strip clubs to downtown art parties, and as Venkatesh questions his own reasons for going deeper into this subterranean world, he finds something truly unexpected - community.
Floating City is Venkatesh's inimitable journey through this 'vast invisible continent' of the underground economy - a thriving yet largely unseen world that exists in parallel to our own, at the heart of every city.