Imagine if everyone on the subway were reading the same book, at the same time. That's the point behind the "One Book, One New York" initiative from New York Magazine's Vulture and the New York City Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, currently being promoted with a charming illustration from Jorge Colombo, who has also created covers for The New Yorker and Granta.
The effort, in its second year, is asking New Yorkers throughout the month of April to vote on a single book to read together. Colombo's illustration depicts New Yorkers engrossed in each of the books in contention: James Baldwin's "If Beale Street Could Talk," Jennifer Egan's "Manhattan Beach," Hari Kunzru's "White Tears," Imbolo Mbue's "Behold the Dreamers" and Esmeralda Santiago's "When I was Puerto Rican."
While it looks hand-drawn, Colombo created the artwork entirely on an iPad. "I used to draw on sketchbooks but for the past nine years I've been doing all of my work on touchscreens," he says in a statement. He worked from real-life, quickly trying to capture interesting characters he saw on the subway. "Having a subject who may run away at the next station makes me work faster," he adds.
Once New York decides on a book, the illustration will change to show only the winner in the hands of the subway riders.