At once epic and intimate, Dissident Gardens — the latest from American writer Jonathan Lethem — delves deep into the multigenerational story of a fierce family of activists.

Book Review Dissident Gardens

This book cover image released by Doubleday shows "Dissident Gardens," by Jonathan Lethem. (AP Photo/Doubleday) (The Associated Press)

In following three generations of radicals — from ferocious matriarch and Communist Rose Zimmer to her passionate daughter Miriam through her grandson Sergius as well as others in their circle — the novel explores the transformation of American activism throughout the decades while also painting a portrait of a difficult, dysfunctional, leftist family living in New York.

"It’s so much about the intimate experience of trying to puzzle over what your legacy is. Where did your parents come from? What were they like before you came along? And what am I supposed to do with this information? How am I supposed to feel about the lives they led?" Lethem told CBC News.

"It's very much a story about the mixed blessing of conducting an investigation into legacies and family stories."

Watch the attached video to see Lethem talk to CBC's Alice Hopton about Dissident Gardens.