‘Rumble in Brooklyn’: A gritty memoir that bursts glamorized bubble of Hollywood’s ‘wiseguys’

Joseph Trigoboff. Images courtesy of Smith Publicity

A fat, four-eyed kid somehow finds himself growing up in the toughest and most Mafia-filled slum in the country. From surviving protection rackets at the age of five, violent anti-Semitism, and brutal gang wars, “Rumble in Brooklyn” (Bare Knuckles Press) goes straight into East New York to depict the street-fighting childhood of New York Times acclaimed crime writer Joseph Trigoboff.  During the 1950s and ’60s, he not only knew, but exchanged blows with members of street gangs that were headed by future “Goodfellas.”

“Unlike most authors who write about Mafia gangsters and slum life, I lived it. I know the real ‘truth’ behind the mobsters portrayed by Hollywood,” says Trigoboff.  “‘Rubmble’ deals with bullying in a distinctly nonpolitically correct way.”

“Rumble in Brooklyn” tells the story of Trigoboff’s poignant, violent coming of age amidst the brutal bigotry of East New York – the most violent neighborhood in the toughest town in America – and the favorite dumping ground for any self-respecting Mafioso.

“It was a surrealistic place to grow up. There were packs of wild dogs because of the dump. The neighborhood was ruled by street gangs. There was terrible racial tension. You’d be playing baseball, and you would see a bunch of Italian guys chasing a black kid into the weeds, and that would be the last you saw of him,” explains Trigoboff.

Rumble-CoverChallenged daily to fights with bigger and stronger opponents in an environment that was always threatening and always changing, ‘Rumble’ describes the enduring power of friendship as Jewish street kids fought together against anti-Semitic neighborhood gangs such as the New Lots Boys, Fountain & Pitkin the El Tones and the Roman Lords. Trigoboff also exposes a vicious KKK gang of Jewish and Italian teenagers that hunted in a nearby neighborhood looking for black people to stomp to death.

But “Rumble” is also a tale about a father-son relationship that was not based on a love of sports, but on Trigoboff’s father’s love of literature.   Lee Trigoboff, nicknamed Samson and Popeye for his immense strength, not only taught young Joe how to fight and survive on the streets, but also encouraged his son’s love of reading and writing.

“I’ve heard time and time again, ‘But you’re Jewish, Jews aren’t supposed to grow up that way.’”

Acclaimed writer Joseph Trigoboff grew up in East New York, Brooklyn. “The Bone Orchard,” his first crime novel, was listed by the New York Times as one of the best crime novels of the year; Barnes & Noble chose it for its Discover New Great Writers program, and it was a selection of The Book of the Month Club.  His second crime novel, “The Shooting Gallery,” was favorably reviewed by the New York Times, Kirkus, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly and many others.  Booklist gave The Shooting Gallery its highest praise, “Crime fiction as Dante might have written it.” Joe lives with his wife and two children in New York City.



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