Conversation: Jonathan Lethem

BY Arts Desk  November 6, 2009 at 4:17 PM EDT

Chase Insteadman is a former child TV-star, now fiance of an astronaut stranded in space. Perkus Tooth is a forgotten culture critic with a deep sense of paranoia. These two and friends travel through a Manhattan that is both very recognizable — from the billionaire mayor to the burgers at a local diner — while also surreal. Among other things, an escaped tiger is on the loose and part of the city is shrouded in a strange fog that won’t go away.

It’s all part of the new novel “Chronic City,” the latest from author Jonathan Lethem, whose other books include “the Fortress of Solitude” and “Motherless Brooklyn,” which won the National Book Critics Circle Award.