“Exit West” is the love story that we desperately need right now. In a war-torn, religiously oppressive country, Nadia and Saeed are young lovers whose future together is forever altered when they flee through a magical doorway that promises a better life. As they adjust to their newfound identities as refugees, they soon realize that they have differing ideas of what they want from life, their new homes, and each other. Mohsin Hamid has written an emotionally gripping and timely novel of love and identity that will challenge your expectations of happiness but will leave you hopeful for the future.
— Alison Gore, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbr
Community Bookstore’s pick: “Breaking and Entering” by Joy Williams
To my mind, Joy Williams is the funniest and darkest of the contemporary American writers, and “Breaking and Entering” is her funniest and darkest book. A married couple travels through Florida breaking into fancy summer homes, and that’s pretty much it. But in Williams’s hands, it becomes a story about love and desperation and loneliness, shot through with a cast of losers, misfits, grotesques and saps. No book has ever made me laugh so hard from sentence to sentence.
— Hal Hlavinka, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.commun
The soothing pastels and stripped-down layouts of this graphic novel give way to a quiet anxiety and all-too-real hopelessness that calls to mind the work of Chris Ware. Some shocks come suddenly — a deranged daydream, an ominous stranger — but more affecting is the way its six stories slowly bleed together. Subtle tensions becoming major themes and small characters muttering the disappointing, revealing sound bites that form the texture of a place. Drnaso’s vision of Middle America is hollow, but he is an incredible artist.
— Julian Elman, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenl