‘The Hazards of Fortune’ Explores Race, American Justice System

Philanthropist and property developer Jay Gladstone would rather not think about issues of race or privilege. He is busy enough managing a rocky second marriage and an increasingly strained relationship with his liberal daughter.

But his world is not so far removed from that of Dag Maxwell, the African-American star basketball player on the team that Jay owns, or of Russell Plesko, a white cop whose decision one ordinary morning will have consequences that reshape a number of lives. And Jay must face the aftermath of colossal errors and the unpredictability of the court of public opinion.

Author Seth Greenland
Photo by Barbara Katz

The lives of the vivid, diverse cast of characters in Seth Greenland’s “The Hazards of Good Fortune” converge and conflict in this captivating novel exposes pertinent questions about race, wealth and the American justice system — and accepts no easy answers.

At times unsettling, but always recognizable, Greenland’s witty, clear-eyed satire mixes searing humor with undeniable truth.

“I’ve always been fascinated by 1970’s New York City, where I moved when I got out of college.” Greenland, who is a native New Yorker, wrote in a release.

“I worked as a feature writer for The SoHo Weekly News, and the stories I wrote took me all over the city — which, although culturally vibrant, was falling apart. In 1975, with the city on the verge of bankruptcy, the civic-minded heads of several real estate families (nearly all of them Jewish sons of Russian immigrants) banded together to pay their taxes in advance so the city wouldn’t go bankrupt … These families were the models for the Gladstones, the family at the center of ‘The Hazards of Good Fortune,’” he wrote.

Although the book’s protagonist, Greenland explains, is a good guy, he says something that gets misinterpreted.

“We’re in a cultural moment now where people are confused about who is allowed to say what. #MeToo and Black Lives Matter are ascendant. Power structures are being challenged. Our society is at an inflection point, and this seemed like the right time to pull on my rubber boots and wade into the national conversation.”

Greenland is the critically acclaimed author of five darkly funny literary novels. His writing has been praised in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post.

He is also a playwright and screenwriter and has worked as a producer. Born in New York City, he currently lives in Los Angeles.

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