Isabel Fonseca’s ethnographic storytelling — adapted from her PhD dissertation — traces Gypsy history from enslavement to the struggle to unify and demand “Roma rights” under the brand new European Union. Today, as the continent is threatened by rising populism, the Roma are a major target of nativist movements. To understand how the Roma remain the most persecuted minority in Europe, begin with these moving stories.
Word’s pick: “Fen” by Daisy Johnson
Set in the unruly fenlands of England, Daisy Johnson’s gorgeous collection of short stories combines myth, folklore, and magical realism to underscore the wildness and unpredictability at the heart of its characters. This debut is a perfect match for fans of Kelly Link and Angela Carter.
— Caitlin Mullen, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbr
John Williams’s epistolary final novel “Augustus” recounts the rise of the first emperor of Rome, from a frail young man in the shadow of his uncle Julius Caesar to the “master of the world.” Through a series of letters, Williams offers revealing glimpses into the minds of the poets, historians, and statesmen that witnessed the end of a republic and the life of an emperor. In prose that is crisp and refined, Williams balances his cast of characters remarkably well. It is a true masterpiece of historical fiction.
— Samuel Partal, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.commun