Emily Witt is a writer in New York City. (...)

Health and Safety

In the summer of 2016, a divisive presidential election was underway, and a new breed of right-wing rage was on the rise. Emily Witt, who would soon publish her first book on sex in the digital age, had recently quit antidepressants for a more expansive world of psychedelic experimentation. From her apartment in Brooklyn, she began to catch glimpses of the clandestine nightlife scene thrumming around her.

In Health and Safety, Witt charts her immersion into New York City’s dance music underground. Emily would come to lead a double life. By day she worked as a journalist, covering gun violence, climate catastrophes, and the rallies of right-wing militias. And by night she pushed the limits of consciousness in hollowed-out office spaces and warehouses to music that sounded like the future. But no counterculture, no matter how utopian, could stave off the squalor of American politics and the cataclysm of 2020.

Affectionate yet never sentimental, Health and Safety is a lament for a broken relationship, for a changed nightlife scene, and for New York City just before the fall. Sparing no one—least of all herself—Witt offers her life as a lens onto an era of American delirium and dissolution.

Hardcover, 272 pages.


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Selected Reviews

“No one writes about contemporary American life—about drugs, sex, dating, madness—with as hard an edge as Emily Witt. Health and Safety is a masterpiece of observation and analysis. Read it if you can.” —Keith Gessen, author of A Terrible Country

“I found myself deeply jealous of Emily Witt. Why didn’t I spend the last 8 years dancing myself into an alternate, psychedelic universe? It seems after all to be the only sensible response to the fractured disaster that is the contemporary world. Witt, with a gimlet eye and a voice that never shies away from the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us, offers a tour of the years that begin with the surreal catastrophe of the 2016 election and through the Covid years and the murder of George Floyd, giving me insight to a time that all too often feels like a nightmare that has, like all dreams, begun to fade from memory. This remarkable book didn’t just allow me to relive that time, but helped me to understand it.” —Ayelet Waldman, author of A Really Good Day