Jonathan Lethem has long used his love of language and his acute sense of history to convey what’s best about the human aptitude for folly. Dissident Gardens (Doubleday, $27.95), his latest novel, spans three generations and their diverse cultural touchstones and political movements. From the Communism of the 1930s to the civil rights era to the post-idealism of the 1970s, this novel juggles shifts of hope and disillusionment, youthful idealism and jaded maturity. Lethem is particularly focused on the far left here, and we get the political scene through colorful family dynamics as the characters saw their way through time and each other’s lives.
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