The women who fill the pages of Camille Acker’s collection of short stories — all set in Chocolate City, Washington DC — grapple with the universal struggles of love, bodies, reputation, and power while illustrating the unique struggles of black womanhood at this moment, and in the moments of our mothers and grandmothers. You will feel these stories echo in your bones.
— Hannah Oliver Depp, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbo
Community Bookstore’s pick: “The Witch,” by Ronald Hutton
In his new book, subtitled “A History of Fear From Ancient Times To The Present,” historian Ronald Hutton traces a global history of witchcraft and witch trials. From Africa to the Asian steppe to the New World, Hutton parses familiar cases of mass hysteria, in which communities turn against one another, fellow citizens and kin transformed into menacing others. This tome is a frighteningly relevant deep dive into the dark underbelly of religion and society.
— Samuel Partal, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.commun
Sigrid Nunez’s newly National Book Award-nominated novel “The Friend” is a thin volume, but its meditative, humorous prose is full of depth. The female narrator has lost her male professor and mentor to suicide, and she takes in his Harlequin Great Dane, even though dogs are forbidden by her lease (a non-negotiable rule that makes any New Yorker quake with obedience.) The bond she builds with this animal mimics all she has lost in life and provides her the reflective honesty found only in the eyes of a pet. Nunez makes powerful observations on everyday life using a voice that is at once familiar and unexpected. This book can (and should) be devoured in a single sitting.
— Wynne Kontos, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenl