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JONATHAN LETHEM reads from his book DISSIDENT GARDENS and LYDIA MILLET reads from her book MERMAIDS IN PARADISE

Dissident Gardens (Vintage Books) Mermaids in Paradise (W.W. Norton & Company)

Jonathan Lethem, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and the MacArthur Fellowship whose writing has been called "as ambitious as [Norman] Mailer, as funny as Philip Roth, and as stinging as Bob Dylan" ("Los Angeles Times"), returns with an epic yet intimate family saga.

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 equally passionate and willful daughter, Miriam, flees Rose's influence for the dawning counterculture of Greenwich Village. Despite their differences, they share a power to enchant the men in their lives: Rose's aristocratic German Jewish husband, Albert; her feckless chess hustler cousin, Lenny; Cicero Lookins, the brilliant son of her black cop lover; Miriam's (slightly fraudulent) Irish folksinger husband, Tommy Gogan; and their bewildered son, Sergius. Through Lethem's vivid storytelling we come to understand that the personal may be political, but the political, even more so, is personal.

Pulitzer Prize finalist Lydia Millet returns to redefine “comedy of errors” in Mermaids In Paradise, the genre-bending satire of a tropical honeymoon hijacked by mermaids, kidnappers, and mercenaries.

In this hilarious novel, a honeymooning couple makes friends with a marine biologist who discovers genuine mermaids in a coral reef—and who, the next night, apparently drowns in her hotel bathtub. As a resort chain swoops in to corner the market on mermaids, the newlyweds (opinionated, skeptical narrator Deb and handsome online gamer Chip, the world’s friendliest man) join forces with other vacationers—including an ex–Navy SEAL with a love of explosives and a hipster Tokyo VJ—to protect the mermaids from the corporate “Venture of Marvels” that wants to turn their habitat into a theme park.

Mermaids in Paradise is Millet’s funniest book yet, tempering the sharp satire of her early career with the empathy and emotional power of her more recent, critically acclaimed novels and short stories. This is an unforgettable, mesmerizing tale, comic on the surface and deeply solemn at its core.

Praise for Dissident Gardens:

"Dissident Gardens seamlessly weaves together three generations, yet it doesn't broadcast itself as a multigenerational epic, nor is it afflicted by the desire to pose as the next great American novel. It's an intimate book."--The New York Times Book Review

"A tour de force, a brilliant, satiric journey through America's dissident history."--The Star Tribune

"Lethem has artfully blended, redefined, ignored, satirized and enriched the traditional categories of fiction."--The Plain Dealer

"Remarkable. . . . Lethem's best novel since "Motherless Brooklyn." . . . Crackle[s] with wordplay and intelligence."--The Miami Herald

"The writing soars. . . . Lethem can riff with the best, spinning knockout lines that make you stop and stare . . . while you admire a sentence's every turn."--The Seattle Times

"An assured, expert literary performance by one of our most important writers. . . . Magnificent."--Los Angeles Review of Books

Praise for Mermaids in Paradise:

"Mermaids in Paradise makes brilliant comedy out of a honeymoon trip that veers from the absurd to the sublime and back again. Lydia Millet is a stone-cold genius. --Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation

"I laughed so hard all over town. Leave it to Lydia Millet to capsize her human characters in aquamarine waters and upstage their honeymoon with mermaids. I am awed to know there's a mind like Millet's out there. She's a writer without limits, always surprising, always hilarious. --Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! andVampires in the Lemon Grove

Jonathan Lethem is the "New York Times" bestselling author of nine novels, including Chronic CityThe Fortress of Solitude, and Motherless Brooklyn, and of the nonfiction collection The Ecstasy of Influence. A National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, Lethem's work has appeared in "The New Yorker," "Harper's Magazine," "Rolling Stone," "Esquire," and "The New York Times," among other publications. 

Lydia Millet is the author of twelve previous books of fiction. Her novel Ghost Lightswas a New York Times Notable Book; its sequel Magnificence was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle and Los Angeles Times Awards in fiction; and her story collection Love in Infant Monkeys was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. She lives outside Tucson, Arizona. 

Jonathan Lethem photo by John Lucas

Lydia Millet photo by Ivory Orchard Photography 

Event date: 
Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Dissident Gardens (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
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The Ecstasy of Influence: Nonfictions, Etc. (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
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