Dissident Gardens

Dissident Gardens

A Novel

Book - 2013 | First edition.
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A dazzling novel from one of our finest writers--an epic yet intimate family saga about three generations of all-American radicals

At the center of Jonathan Lethem's superb new novel stand two extraordinary women: 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 precocious and willful daughter, Miriam, equally passionate in her activism, flees Rose's influence to embrace the dawning counterculture of Greenwich Village.
     These women cast spells over the men in their lives: Rose's aristocratic German Jewish husband, Albert; her cousin, the feckless chess hustler Lenny Angrush; Cicero Lookins, the brilliant son of her black cop lover; Miriam's (slightly fraudulent) Irish folksinging husband, Tommy Gogan; their bewildered son, Sergius. Flawed and idealistic, Lethem's characters struggle to inhabit the utopian dream in an America where radicalism is viewed with bemusement, hostility, or indifference.
     As the decades pass--from the parlor communism of the '30s, McCarthyism, the civil rights movement, ragged '70s communes, the romanticization of the Sandinistas, up to the Occupy movement of the moment--we come to understand through Lethem's extraordinarily vivid storytelling that the personal may be political, but the political, even more so, is personal.
     Lethem's characters may pursue their fates within History with a capital H , but his novel is--at its mesmerizing, beating heart--about love.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, [2013]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780385534932
Branch Call Number: Fic
Characteristics: 366 pages ; 25 cm.


From Library Staff

1930s "parlor communism," 1970s communes, and the recent Occupy movements

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Dec 22, 2014

A rich tapestry of characters and relationships stretching from pre-WWII American Communist Party members to postmodernist academics and Occupy activists. A portrait of dissident culture through multiple generations. Lethem's prose can be a bit heavy-handed at times, but reading this novel through is a rewarding experience.

Jan 04, 2014

"There was music in the cafes at night, revolution in the air."-Bob Dylan
Jonathan Lethem's newest novel, his ninth, is also one of his best. I say this as someone who has mixed feelings about him as a writer, although I prefer him to other Jonathans like Franzen and Safron Foer. This might be his most direct and sincere novel, focusing on a family of Jewish radicals in NYC over the course of many decades. The themes of leftist politics, folk music, Judaism, New York City, culture and identity are handled well, but are also very familiar and I wouldn't say he does anything innovative or revealing with them. Still, it's an enjoyable, interesting read and its recreation of the musical and political stew of the late 60s will appeal to a wide audience. Check out "Inside Llewyn Davis" for a darker and more provocative look at a similar environment (sans the politics though).

ChristchurchLib Dec 16, 2013

"A multi-generational saga that focuses on two extraordinary women: tyrannical Communist Rose, who terrorises her neighbourhood with her absolute beliefs, and her brilliant but wilful daughter, Miriam, who flees her mother's suffocating influence to embrace the Age of Aquarius counterculture of Greenwich Village." Fiction A to Z December 2013 newsletter http://www.nextreads.com/Display2.aspx?SID=5acc8fc1-4e91-4ebe-906d-f8fc5e82a8e0&N=711899

Dec 06, 2013

Narrowly focused on leftists in Queens
Could not finish as it dragged

Nov 15, 2013

The ebook is not compatible with kindle. Kindle users will need to check out the paper book, instead.


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