Word’s picks: “Run River,” by Joan Didion
This novel is Joan Didion’s first, a dishy exposure of the bleak marriage of two wealthy scions of California land-owning families. Falling somewhere between “The Great Gatsby,” in its nostalgic depiction of troubled, striving privilege, and “The Grapes of Wrath,” as a crucial entry in the mythology of California. As an almost 60-year-old novel, alongside Didion’s better known works like “Play It As It Lays,” “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” and “The Year of Magical Thinking,” it can stand outside the shadow of the author’s reputation as a truly gorgeous novel.
— Jeff Waxman, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbookstores.com].
Community Bookstore’s pick: “The Organs of Sense,” by Adam Ehrlich Sachs
A strange satire of historical fiction that is also a compelling riff on the limits of science and the dubious power of doubt. Sachs spins his yarn around a meeting between the philosopher Leibniz and an unnamed, eccentric, and blind astronomer who enlists his help in making calculations of an upcoming eclipse. What follows is something like “The Name Of The Rose” meets “Waiting For Godot.” It is delightful.
— 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: “Travelers,” by Helon Habila
Set mostly in Germany, but also all around Europe, the main character in this novel is a Nigerian man who accompanies his American wife on an extended trip to Berlin for her artist’s residency. While there he loses traction and drifts, meandering through the book and crossing paths with refugees across all stages of migrant life. This book is a quiet and thoughtful meditation on migration, refugees, identity, home, a lack of home, and what it means to be from a place.
— Rebecca Fitting, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenlightbookstore.com].