We're thrilled to get our hands on Jonathan Lethem's highly-anticipated new novel, and it looks like a blockbuster! Quite possibly his most ambitious work to date, this sprawling, riotous tome aims for the realm of the classically BIG Great American Novel. Dissident Gardens follows three generations of U.S. radical leftists, from 1930s Communist Party meetings to the rise of McCarthyism, the establishment of the New York Mets, the Greenwich Village hippie-folk scene of the 60s and the AIDS crisis, with brief ventures abroad to such places as Iron-Curtain East Germany and war-torn Nicaragua, ending in the Obama era of Occupy protests and surveillance paranoia.
Focused especially on the lives of two powerful women, communist Rose Zimmer and her activist daughter Mariam, Lethem once again demonstrates his particular aptitude for weaving the intimately personal with the capital-H historical in a maximalist style packed with colourful characters, pop culture commentary, and vivid evocations of vernacular speech. Dig in!
Some praise for Dissident Gardens:
"Dissident Gardens is, in part, a personalized history of the American left. Lethem captures optimistic communists and hippies in moments when they feel triumphant — and follows them to their political doom. For America has been a leftist graveyard, as the current historical moment of bank bailouts and half-hearted (but virulently resisted) health care reform makes clear. Still, doom is possibly too final a word: something always survives each dissident movement, to be taken up anew, in fresh forms." - Mohson Hamid, author of How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia
"Though Dissident Gardens is sometimes overcrowded by all of the things history discards in its wake, including other novels, it has ambition to spare. With this effort, Lethem yearns to make sense of a century of American longing, the same longing that created the very notion of the Great American Novel. And if the author comes up short, that only means more yearning, more longing, and (hopefully) more novels like this one. Mailer be damned." - Gregg LaGambina, The Onion A.V. Club