Carol Anderson’s slim book, subtitled “The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide” is essential reading for unpacking the history of race relations in America. Her painstaking research details the systematic suppression of African-American civil rights by white Americans, drawing a straight line from slavery and Jim Crow laws to modern-day discriminatory school funding and the suppression of voting rights. A short read, but one that will stay with you and hopefully fill you with a different kind of rage.
— Michael Bender, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.commun
Word’s pick: “Grief Is The Thing With Feathers” by Max Porters
This genre-bending novel begins with the sudden death of a wife and mother. Her husband and two sons manifest their grief in a shared delusion: a crow who speaks to them, tricks them, defends them, and cares for them — until the day that he is no longer needed. In its brisk 144 pages, “Grief Is The Thing With Feathers” gives the form of the novel shades of parables and poetry. One page will offer an unsentimental, stark look at grief; the next is filled with darkly funny cacophony and playfulness. The book allows the reader to fill in their own interpretation of grief, but is poignant enough to leave a real mark. Max Porter’s debut novel is endearing and powerful, and the last page will leave you stunned.
— Steven Tran, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbr
Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead
The novel “Underground Railroad” may be fiction, but really it is a work of history. History that is made up (with a literal railroad that is definitely made up) because it was a tragically undocumented era, but a history that bears unflinching witness to the very real horrors of slavery. Whitehead is a writer I’ve long admired, but with this new book he has grown so much. The strength of story that was in his novel “John Henry Days” remains, but this time it comes with a perfect form, structure, and storytelling arc. This is a perfect book.
— Rebecca Fitting, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenl
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