Word’s pick: “The Fifth Season” by N. K. Jemisin
Jemisin is a brilliant world-builder, and her new fantasy novel features her third world. The Stillness is prone to shakes, quakes, and other geological happenings but certain people, called orogenes, have the power to stop these shakes before they start. Orogenes are feared and hated unless they join the Fulcrum, a group that trains and controls them. Jemisin weaves three story lines — a mother looking for her kidnapped daughter; a girl taken to the Fulcrum; and two orogenes, reluctantly working together — into a mesmerizing whole, building a vivid, uncertain world populated with unforgettable characters.
— Molly Templeton, Word [126 Franklin St. at Milton Street in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbrooklyn.com].
Greenlight Bookstore’s pick: “Under the Udala Trees” by Chinelo Okparanta
This coming-of-age story, set against the backdrop of civil war in Nigeria and its aftermath, follows two girls who find peace in each other only to be pulled apart. Their love is not true love, they are told, and because they are not from the same community, they are forbidden to know each other. This first novel from Chinelo Okparanta, author of the short story collection “Happiness, like Water,” will impact your life. Put “Under the Udala Trees” at the top of your reading list, and keep an eye on this writer’s career.
— Jess Pane, 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: “The Physics of Sorrow” by Georgi Gospodinov
In 2010, the Economist ran an article titled “The Geography of Happiness” that crowned Bulgaria “the saddest place in the world.” Gospodinov’s second novel, “The Physics of Sorrow,” could be an agreement or a rebuke. It is a labyrinthine, lyrical book that uses the Minotaur myth to tell a sprawling family narrative. Gospodinov’s narrator inhabits different bodies, ducking in and out of various “side passages” to encounter the history of the Eastern European nation. It’s sad, sure, but it’s also funny and smart and beautiful, all at once.
— Hal Hlavinka, Community Bookstore [43 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place in Park Slope, (718) 783–3075, www.communitybookstore.net].