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 and mercurial tyrant who terrorizes her neighborhood and her family with the ferocity of her personality and the absolutism of her beliefs. Her brilliant and willful daughter, Miriam, is equally passionate in her activism, but flees Rose's suffocating influence and embraces the Age of Aquarius counterculture of Greenwich Village.
Both women cast spells that entrance or enchain the men in their lives: Rose's aristocratic German Jewish husband, Albert; her nephew, 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. These flawed, idealistic people all struggle to follow their own utopian dreams 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.
Brilliantly constructed as it weaves across time and among characters, Dissident Gardens is riotous and haunting, satiric and sympathetic—and a joy to read.
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Review: Dissident GardensUser Review - Gary the Bookworm - Goodreads
Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls. Joseph Campbell Jonathan Lethem is able to deftly capitalize on the settings he employs in his novels by making the ... Read full review
Review: Dissident GardensUser Review - Erica - Goodreads
A family epic, though not sprawling. A Communist Jew in the 1950s, Rose, her radical hippie daughter, Miriam, Miriam's Quaker peacenik son, Sergius. Lethem follows the strain of "dissidence" through ... Read full review