If your book group enjoys reading fiction set in New York, two recent literary novels centered in and around Brooklyn bring the borough vividly to life.
Emma Straub’s Modern Lovers supplies some of the same charm I appreciated in Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings. Set in Brooklyn—Ditmas Park, to be exact—it follows a group of friends who have known each other since college. At Oberlin, Elizabeth, Andrew and Zoe were in a band with their friend Lydia, who went on to a solo career without them. But Lydia’s fame was cemented by a song that Elizabeth wrote, a feminist anthem that took on a life of its own when Lydia died young. Elizabeth and Andrew are now married and parents to a teenager named Harry. They live on the same block as Zoe, wife Jane, and daughter Ruby, as well as the destination restaurant Zoe and Jane now own. We encounter these characters just as strain and secrets begin to change their friendships and their lives. Straub has written a character-driven contemporary novel with great heart and depth—and it will make your book club wish you were living on the same block as Elizabeth, Andrew and Zoe.
Another hot Brooklyn novel is Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest. Four adult siblings have built their lives around their knowledge of a future inheritance, but things don’t go as planned. With money on the line, even blood doesn’t insure honor. As the family drama and secrets unfold, the dysfunction and lushly described bourgie Brooklyn scenery will keep you and your book group turning pages.
These books are, of course, just the latest in a long line of Brooklyn-based novels. There are so many, in fact, that last year, the Brooklyn Public Library created the Eagles Prize to celebrate locally made fiction. Visit the BPL website for the best Brooklyn books.