Amy Shearn

Amy Shearn is the author of the critically acclaimed novels How Far Is the Ocean from Here, chosen as a notable debut by Poets & Writers and a hot summer read by the Chicago Tribune, and The Mermaid of Brooklyn, which was a selection of Target’s Emerging Authors program, a Hudson News Summer Reads pick, and was also published in the UK and as an audiobook. She is a fiction editor for Joyland Magazine, and her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Real Simple, and many literary publications. She earned an MFA from the University of Minnesota, has received a Promise Award grant from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and has participated in residencies at SPACE on Ryder Farm and elsewhere. Amy lives in New York City with her two children.

All Books

Unseen City

Amy Shearn

Publication Date: September 29, 2020

$17.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-367-5


Unseen City is a multi-generational portrait of New York and the unexpected connections between a lonely Brooklyn librarian, a widower returning to his roots, and a ghost still lingering in a home that was once part of an activist-founded farming settlement.

In a city teeming with stories, how do lost souls find one another? It’s a question Meg Rhys doesn’t think she’s asking. Meg is a self-identified spinster librarian, satisfied with living with her cat, stacks of books, and her dead sister’s ghost in her New York City apartment. Then she becomes obsessed with an intriguing library patron and the haunted house he’s trying to research. The house has its own story to tell too, of love and war, of racism’s fallout and the ghost story that is gentrification, and of Brooklyn before it was Brooklyn. What follows is an exploration of what home is, how we live with loss, who belongs in the city and to whom the city belongs, and the possibilities and power of love.

GOLD MEDAL in the 2021 Independent Publisher Book Awards in Literary Fiction


“Gripping, moving, and vital, Unseen City asks how human life might defy its lifespan—in the throes of love, the conviction of belief, and each person’s mark upon a city that will survive them. For two days, I laughed at Amy Shearn’s wry humor and gasped at her gorgeous sentences; I couldn’t put this brilliant book down until its perfect final line (and I’m haunted still—which is appropriate, I suppose)!”—Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, bestselling author of June and Bittersweet

“Atmospheric, poignant, well-observed, and sneakily funny, Amy Shearn’s Unseen City is one from the heart, an absorbing read for all those who love Brooklyn, great writing, and the human spirit.”—Kevin Baker, bestselling author of The Big Crowd and America the Ingenious

​“If Amy Shearn’s fiction is as much fun to write as it is to read, that’s welcome news because it’s impossible to read her novels without wanting more, more, more. In true Shearn style, Unseen City is whip-smart, hilarious, and also deeply touching, and this story about mismatched New Yorkers finding common ground in a city they’ve decided—come hell or higher rent—to adore, will delight and charm you long after the last page.”—Courtney Maum, author of I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You and Touch and founder of the learning collaborative, The Cabins.

“In Unseen City Amy Shearn has written a sad and funny and profound book. This is a novel about grief and human connection, about today and yesterday. And it is damn hard to put down.”—Darin Strauss, bestselling author of Half a Life and More Than It Hurts You

“I wish I had written this book. I wish I could publish this book tomorrow. It’s smart, funny, and gorgeously written. I am in awe.”—Julia Fierro, author of The Gypsy Moth Summer and Cutting Teeth, and director of the Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop

Unseen City is a bold take on the way that history binds us and how our stories are woven into and overlap in the very interstices of the city. It is an entrancing story of falling in and out of love and grief with a city, a person, a home.”—Naomi Jackson, award-winning author of The Star Side of Bird Hill


Amy Shearn, Author of UNSEEN CITY, Has an Essay Published In the NY Times!

Married heterosexual motherhood in America, especially in the past two years, is a game no one wins. During the height of the pandemic, my mom-friend group chats roiled: I’m going to scream, typed women trying to do it all. I am seriously going to kill my husband and/or devour my young (hope they don’t subpoena this text thread) became a […]

UNSEEN CITY featured in GBH!

Each month, Beyond The Page: A WGBH Book Club features a notable author, who takes part in a live Q&A with a WGBH personality to discuss the intricacies of that month’s novel. With each monthly book selection, we also ask the author for a list of reading recommendations. For its December edition, Beyond The Page selected Emily Gray […]

Amy Shearn, the author of UNSEEN CITY, has an article published on Forge.

“The news of the past few days has inspired a flurry of group texts and confused conversations among my friends and colleagues. And the general consensus is that no one knows how to feel right now…” To read the rest of her article, click the read more option below. And do not forget to check out UNSEEN CITY.

OK, So …: Episode 14 – Amy Shearn

Welcome to the Season Premiere and Episode 14 of “OK, So …”. This week, I sat down with Amy Shearn, Editor at Medium and author of three novels, including her newest “Unseen City”, which drops next Tuesday, September 29th from Red Hen Press. Amy and I talked about the new school year, growing up in […]

UNSEEN CITY is one of “6 Fall Books to Curl Up with All Season Long”

A librarian, a ghost, and New York city walk into a book—and there you have a recipe for what I never realized is my perfect novel, “Unseen City.” What can be described as a love letter to New York, Amy Shearn’s novel serves as a romantic, haunting story that weaves together the metropolitan behemoth’s past […]


Rain Taxi shows off UNSEEN CITY in their recent magazine issue!

“Funny, spooky, sad, and yet hopeful, Amy Shearn’s UNSEEN CITY is at times a family drama, a ghost story, a commentary on race relations, an intense flirtation, and a love letter to Brooklyn.” -Carolyn Linck To read the full article, check out Rain Taxi’s most recent volume below! (Volume 26, Number 1 Spring 2021 #101)

Shelf Media Group reviews UNSEEN CITY by Amy Shearn!

The Past Meets the Present Shearn’s book, Unseen City, is an unexpected entry into an historical home and the contrast between life and death. Or, perhaps more fitting, the contrast between living and death. Told in 3rd person omniscient POV, Unseen City takes readers on a journey into the afterlife by way of Meg’s (the […]

Kirkus Reviews: Unseen City

A ghost story that focuses not on a single spirit but on an entire city whose layered history haunts its occupants. “Meg had the unsettling sense that she was seeing all the layers of the city transposed over one another, like scrims in a play going haywire.” Meg Rhys proudly carries her “Spinster Librarian card” […]

Foreword Reviews: Unseen City by Amy Shearn

Amy Shearn’s modern fable Unseen City is anchored by smart, sly humor. It delves into the layered social, psychological, and historical architecture of New York City, a place that’s paved over the bones of its dead, who are transmuted by needs of the living or clarified by their own unmet demands. Somewhere between the two poles lies […]

Publishers Weekly Review: Unseen City by Amy Shearn

Shearn’s luminous latest (after The Mermaid from Brooklyn) follows a self-avowed librarian spinster; a man researching the history of his father’s Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home; and the ghost of an orphaned girl from Civil War–era Manhattan. Meg Rhys lives in the perfect apartment: it’s rent-controlled, close to her job at the Brooklyn Library, and also home […]