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A dazzling novel from one of our finest writersan epic yet intimate family saga about three generations of all-American radicals
At the center of Jonathan Lethems superb new novel stand two extraordinary women: Rose Zimmer, the aptly nicknamed Red Queen of Sunnyside, Queens, is an unreconstructed Communist who savages neighbors, family, and political comrades with the ferocity of her personality and the absolutism of her beliefs. Her precocious and willful daughter, Miriam, equally passionate in her activism, flees Roses influence to embrace the dawning counterculture of Greenwich Village.
These women cast spells over the men in their lives: Roses aristocratic German Jewish husband, Albert; her cousin, the feckless chess hustler Lenny Angrush; Cicero Lookins, the brilliant son of her black cop lover; Miriams (slightly fraudulent) Irish folksinging husband, Tommy Gogan; their bewildered son, Sergius. Flawed and idealistic, Lethems characters struggle to inhabit the utopian dream in an America where radicalism is viewed with bemusement, hostility, or indifference.
As the decades passfrom the parlor communism of the 30s, McCarthyism, the civil rights movement, ragged 70s communes, the romanticization of the Sandinistas, up to the Occupy movement of the momentwe come to understand through Lethems extraordinarily vivid storytelling that the personal may be political, but the political, even more so, is personal.
Lethems characters may pursue their fates within History with a capital H, but his novel isat its mesmerizing, beating heartabout love.