Word’s picks: “Girls Burn Brighter,” by Shobha Rao
Every single time that I had to leave Rao’s debut novel, I found myself counting down the seconds until I could get back to it! A beautifully written story of two best friends, who meet as teenage girls in a small village in India, are separated by a tragic incident, and who endure much more tragedy in the journey to reconnect with one another. Be prepared to be angry, to cry, and to want to grab Savitha and Poornima and hold them tight.
— Jeff Waxman, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbookstores.com].
Community Bookstore’s pick: “Milkman,” by Anna Burns
Set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles of the 1970s, Anna Burns’s Man Booker Prize-winning novel explores the paranoia, repression, and near-surreal dislocation of living in a community at war with itself. Rigorous and distilled in its prose and structure, Burns claims a place beside Joyce and Beckett as one of the Emerald Isle’s all-time greats.
— Samuel Partal, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.communitybookstore.net].
Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “Machines Like Me,” by Ian McEwan
Ian McEwan’s new novel is set in an alternative 1980s, where technology is much more advanced and Britain has just lost the Falklands War. Our protagonist finds himself in a love triangle with the girl of his dreams and the very-close-to-human robot he has just purchased. This is one of the wittiest pieces of speculative fiction I have read in a long while, and McEwan’s thoughts are a joy to wade through. Of course we’ve seen robots gain sentience in countless books and movies, but we have not yet encountered the likes of Ian McEwan’s Adam — an endlessly complex and fascinating character.
— Sarah Goewey, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenlightbookstore.com].