You may have been surprised by the Nobel Prize coronation of Svetlana Alexievich, the Belarusian journalist whose work is widely unknown in the States. But her work deserves every possible commendation the world can muster. “Voices from Chernobyl,” Alexievich’s 1997 account of the meltdown, collects myriad voices of survivors, victims, refugees, and children in an attempt to put a human face to one of the 20th century’s worst man-made disasters. Harrowing, horrific, and deeply humane, “Voices” is one of the rare documentary works of art that amplifies the voices of its subjects into the wild howls of literature.
— Hal Hlavinka, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.commun
Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “The Age of Reinvention” by Karine Tuil
This page-turning international novel was a best-seller in France, and has now been translated into English. The book follows a self-made immigrant named Tahir and his methods of navigating success in the United States. The story spans Tahir’s childhood in Tunisia and his time in Paris, but mostly focuses on his life in New York, where he is a successful lawyer and has married into an elite family — but he isn’t everything he appears to be. This book shows, but doesn’t tell, broad topics like fidelity, love, honesty, deception, international racism, entitlement, and what it means to be successful.
— Rebecca Fitting, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenl
Art and desire intertwine in this incisive exploration of parallel marriages and what happens when you live a life purely for love of beauty. Edward Darby is the partner of a prestigious gallery, and sees himself as an open reflection of the artists he serves. Agnes Murray is the young descendant of Irish immigrants, and her work combines the Old Masters with the recent historical horror of 9/11. Through these characters, Bialosky draws taut constant contrasts between the subtly transportive nature of sublimity in art and the gross banality of everyday life.
— Lydia Hutchins, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbr