If it's true that all politics is local, then the American Communist Party might well have had its roots in Brooklyn's Sunnyside Gardens brought vividly to life in Jonathan Lethem's soaring novel, Dissident Gardens. The story visits not just the growth (and the eventual sputtering out) of communism in these environs, but also traces the arc of subsequent political activities leading all the way up to the recent Occupy movement.
The Sunnyside Gardens that Lethem draws so well bears a striking resemblance to the real-life Sunnyside Gardens in Queens which is on the National Register of Historic Places because it was one of the country's first planned urban garden centers. During the 1950s when the novel gets its start, the Brooklyn neighborhood is made up of Jewish and Irish immigrants. The novel's primary character, Rose Angrush Zimmer, is a quintessential matriarch ruling not just ...
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