Nersesian's brilliant follow-up novel, Manhattan Loverboy (MLB), is paranoid delusion and fantastic comedy in the service of social realism. Updating the picaresque chronicles in L. Frank Baum's WIZARD OF OZ and Kafka's THE TRIAL, MLB is the tale of an orphan whose only known background is that of the city itself, a scaffold-covered grid sewn together with 'Do Not Cross' tape.
In this overly suspicious masterpiece, love is expressed through corrective surgery, and families meet across boardroom tables. At each unsignaled turn of the narrative track, Nersesian's Man-Boy protagonist, Joseph Ngm, must look outside of his own hollow corpus for answers to questions as disparate as 'What is my true ethnicity?' 'Why are there no vowels in my name?' and 'Why am I being toyed with by a corporate scion?' Throughout, Joe dimly discerns that his path has been mapped by someone other than himself.
Raised by mysterious and cold adoptive parents, Joe Ngm searches through history books and Talmudic scriptures for answers. Finding no resolution in an errant sojourn to an Israeli kibbutz, he seizes life's reins and returns home, proclaiming his new identity through a name change. While nurturing his new self, the pudgy protagonist is suddenly awarded an unsolicited graduate fellowship at Columbia University. But the fellowship is yanked away just as quickly by unseen powers. Tracing this defunding to a rhombus-shaped citadel on Wall Street, Little Joseph breaks out of his hermitude to challenge the man behind the disappearing funds. In Joe Aeiou's haphazard confrontation with the lugubrious C.E.O. of Whitlock Incorporated, he succeeds in falling through the Looking Glass. From that moment on, the modern-day warlord sets his sites on retribution, while from inside a plate-glass skyscraper, Joe falls into 'adversarial polarity,' something strangely like love.