Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “Ponti,” by Sharlene Teo
In her exhilarating and haunted debut novel, Teo moves past the usual tropes about teenage girls to explore the toxic friendship between fatherless Szu and acid-tongued Circe. Szu lives in the shadow of her beautiful, but cold-hearted mother Amisa, who acquired fame for her portrayal of a woman who maintains eternal youth by devouring men. The novel, which shifts backwards and forwards in time, is wrought by lush prose and dark humor. A story shaped by loneliness, Teo welcomes us to the “strangeness of living with and loving other people.”
— Itiola Jones, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenlightbookstore.com].
Community Bookstore’s pick: “Ninth Street Women,” by Mary Gabriel
In “Ninth Street Women,” Mary Gabriel brings the downtown art scene of postwar New York to vivid life via the stories of the women who played vital roles in its history. While the critics of the period lionized the male artists that dominated the galleries and museum collections, painters like Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Elaine De Kooning, and others were making work every bit as innovative and powerful as anyone in the art world then or since. An eminently readable and necessary corrective to the creation myth of the macho American postwar painters!
— Samuel Partal, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.communitybookstore.net].
Word’s picks: “Indecency,” by Justin Phillip Reed
The force of these poems sent me flying over the edge of what I thought I knew about language and power. Reed takes seemingly everyday spaces (the body, St. Louis) and turns them into a kind of electric shock on the page. He writes about sex, race, masculinity, violence, and (in)justice without giving you room to hide from the truths he uncovers. Any reader who ventures into these pages will be irrevocably changed. Brace yourself.
— Hilah Kohen, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbookstores.com].