Community Bookstore’s pick: “Fra Keeler,” by Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi
A man buys the home of the recently deceased Fra Keeler, and upon moving in becomes consumed with the question of what caused her mysterious death. His inquest soon turns inward, and what follows is the magisterial narration of a mind unspun. Oloomi’s debut novel, set in the Netherlands, ranks among the works of Robert Musil and Thomas Bernhard as a master class in interiority.
— 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: “Interior Chinatown,” by Charles Yu
This is one of the most unique novels I’ve read in a while, and quite a lot to unpack. It tackles Asian American stereotypes head-on (and I really do mean head-on) as they relate to media, and does it in an outlandish (and at times very funny) way: the main character is a perpetual day player for all the Asian roles on a procedural cop show set in Chinatown. The narrative constantly breaks the fourth wall, is written in a second-person perspective, and is also written in the style of a screenplay. Yu is doing a lot, and while I’m still undecided about what works and what doesn’t, the whole book is a bold move, and for me that seems more important.
— Geo Ong, Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246–0200, www.greenlightbookstore.com].
Word’s picks: “The Crying Book,” by Heather Christle
A poetic examination of one of the most basic of human reactions: crying. Written with grace and an inquisitive mind, “The Crying Book” recalls the poetic investigations of Maggie Nelson or Eula Biss in scope. Through the lens of crying, Christle explores motherhood, anxiety, depression, and the connective tissue that holds us together. Why do we cry? Why did Romans catch and save their tears in small vials? How did Didion stop herself from crying? All answered and brought close to the realm of the personal in this deeply moving book.
— Ryan Evans, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbookstores.com].