singhRanbir Singh Sidhu and Tanwi Nandini Islam in conversation
March 15 at 7 p.m. at WORD Bookstore, 126 Franklin Street
The immigrant narrative is a continually evolving touchstone to American fiction, gaining richness and depth. The debut novels from Ranbir Singh Sidhu and Tanwi Nandini Islam both attempt to re-invent the handling of that cross-cultural narrative using first-generation protagonists that defy stereotypes and expectations. In Sidhu’s Deep Singh Blue, a young man escapes his family by falling desperately in love with an older married woman. But things quickly spin out of his control, culminating in the devastating consequences of racism. Islam’s Bright Lines begins with an orphan’s move from Bangladesh to live with her family in Brooklyn, and follows the new family as they attempt to reckon with their secrets and past.

van den Berg, Laura_0Cote Smith & Laura van den Berg – American Spaces and Escapes
March 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Greenlight Books, 686 Fulton Street
Two authors who explore the bleakness of small-town American life discuss their debut novels. Cote Smith’s Hurt People, set in 1988 Kansas, is about two brothers whose life revolves around their pool even as their town reels with fear of an escaped convict. In Find Me, Laura van den Berg imagines an America devastated by a terrible epidemic as the backdrop for a darkly funny story about a young woman struggling to find her place in the world.


it'snotoverIt’s Not Over: Learning from the Socialist Experiment
March 16 at 7:00 p.m, at Bluestocking Bookstore, 172 Allen Street
Feeling the Bern? Confused about the Bern? (Is he a socialist or isn’t he?) A history lesson is a good place to start. In his new book, Pete Dolack, an activist and writer, parses the socialist experiments of the last century, searching for applicable lessons on attempting to supplant capitalism. He maintains that the march of human progress “is not a gift from gods above,” but “the product of collective human struggle on the ground.” And after all, better to learn from your mistakes.


Better Living Through Criticism: An Evening with A.O. Scott
March 17 at 7:00 p.m. at McNally Jackson, 52 Prince Street

Resident New York Times film critic A.O. Scott is practically an institution- from his scathing pan of The Avengers to his praise for Ratatouille, readers come to him for a solid critique when they’re too lazy to invent their own opinions. His first book peels back the curtain a bit, giving readers a view into Scott’s philosophy (and defense) of criticism as an art in its own right, applicable not only to films, but also to every creative endeavor of modern existence. Will you learn how to eat better, lose weight, and finally clean out your closet with Better Living? Probably not, but your college professor would be proud.