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Rebecca Goldstein was trained as a philosopher and teaches at Columbia, and these refinements are quite evident in her spry new novel, Mazel. Named after the element of chance that rules human lives (“Mazel is the imp of metaphysics,” one character believes), this tale limns the conflicting attitudes of an outspoken Manhattan grandmother; her daughter, a classicist; and granddaughter, a conventional 30-year-old who prefers the Princeton suburbs to New York City. Goldstein reads at 7 p.m. at Chapters, 1512 K St. NW. FREE. (202) 347-5495. (Nathalie op de Beeck)