How We Live Now

Scenes from the Pandemic

From the author of the beloved and critically acclaimed Insomniac City, a poignant and profound tribute in stories and images to a city amidst a pandemic—an ode to our shared humanity.

A bookstore where readers shout their orders from the street. A neighborhood restaurant turned to-go place where one has a shared drink—on either end of a bar—with the owner. These scenes, among many others, became the new normal as soon as the world began to face the COVID-19 pandemic.

In How We Live Now, author and photographer Bill Hayes, with his signature insight and grace, captures these moments of life in real time—as things unfold day-by-day, hour-by-hour, in this strange new world we’re now in (for who knows how long?), with its new sets of rules and guidelines, its suddenly deserted streets, shuttered restaurants, bars, shops, and stores. As he wanders the increasingly empty streets of Manhattan, Hayes meets fellow New Yorkers and discovers stories to tell, but he also shares the unexpected moments of grace and gratitude he finds from within his apartment, where he lives alone and—like everyone else—is staying home, trying to keep busy and not bored as he adjusts to enforced solitude with reading, cooking, reconnecting with loved ones, reflecting on the past—and writing.

Featuring Hayes’s inimitable street photographs, How We Live Now chronicles an unimaginable moment in time, offering a long-lasting reminder that what will get us through this unprecedented, deadly crisis is each other.

Reviews for How We Live Now

“Bill Hayes has unwrapped a New York under wraps during the lockdown. He is, in his photos and writings, the great poet of the everyday.”

-- Edmund White

“Startinly potent….Hayes’s photos movingly capture a fraught and frightening moment in history.”

-- Publishers Weekly

“This is a love story–for one particular man in the love affair that began as the pandemic did, for the city of New York and its people coping with an unanticipated catastrophe, for what words can do, for the light and darkness, shade and illumination of black-and-white photography, for wandering and encountering and seeing, for being truly a citizen of the city and an inhabitant of the streets.  Even at a moment when we were all supposed to withdraw from each other, How We Live Now reaches out.”

-- Rebecca Solnit

“As he did with Insomniac City, his previous memoir with photographs, Hayes has a way of opening up the particularity of his experience to include us all….Whether he’s using a laptop or a camera, Hayes is a keen observer, alert to the pain, resilience, and wit of New York and New Yorkers.”

-- Vince Aletti, "Italian Vogue - 'This Is Not a Fashion Photograph'"

Images From This Book