By Jonathan Lethem
(Vintage Books, Paperback, 9780307744494, 366pp.)
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
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One of the Best Books of the Year: "Chicago Tribune," "Village Voice," "The Globe and Mail"
Jonathan Lethem, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and the MacArthur Fellowship whose writing has been called "as ambitious as Norman] Mailer, as funny as Philip Roth, and as stinging as Bob Dylan" ("Los Angeles Times"), returns with an epic yet intimate family saga.
Rose Zimmer, the aptly nicknamed Red Queen of Sunnyside, Queens, is an unreconstructed Communist who savages neighbors, family, and political comrades with the ferocity of her personality and the absolutism of her beliefs. Her equally passionate and willful daughter, Miriam, flees Rose's influence for the dawning counterculture of Greenwich Village. Despite their differences, they share a power to enchant the men in their lives: Rose's aristocratic German Jewish husband, Albert; her feckless chess hustler cousin, Lenny; Cicero Lookins, the brilliant son of her black cop lover; Miriam's (slightly fraudulent) Irish folksinger husband, Tommy Gogan; and their bewildered son, Sergius. Through Lethem's vivid storytelling we come to understand that the personal may be political, but the political, even more so, is personal.
His new book, Dissident Gardens, follows three generations of an activist family. The book is fiction, but its characters were inspired by Lethem's own story. Originally broadcast Sept. 9, 2013. More at NPR.org
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