PanThe Atlantic\"The universe of Hark looks pretty familiar, although politics, the bane and boon of most contemporary satirists, receives little more than a lazy, glancing shot ... Lipsyte often seems trapped in a voice and sensibility that he no longer entirely believes in ... Lipsyte’s writing has a habit of disappearing up its own…never mind ... I have nothing but sympathy for the [political and social] predicament out of which this book arises, and nothing but impatience with its way of addressing that predicament ... A metaphor may be a place for cows to graze, but this is bullshit.\
RaveThe New York TimesRusso knows his characters too well to allow them the luxury of victimhood or to indulge in the grim determinism of some of his peers. His humane sympathy for weakness and self-deception – a sympathy extended even to the manipulative Mrs. Whiting and her minion, a dimwitted policeman named Jimmy Minty – does not rule out stern satiric judgment. The people of Empire Falls are not held down simply by fate or by their own bad choices but by the active collaboration of their neighbors and loved ones … Russo's command of his story is unerring, but his manner is so unassuming that his mastery is easy to miss. He satisfies every expectation without lapsing into predictability, and the last section of the book explodes with surprises that also seem, in retrospect, like inevitabilities. As the pace quickens and the disparate threads of the narrative draw tighter, you find yourself torn between the desire to rush ahead and the impulse to slow down.
RaveThe New York TimesCross-racial male friendship is an old American story – if you believe the likes of D. H. Lawrence and Leslie Fiedler, it is the American story, and the love between Dylan and Mingus goes, as Lawrence might have put it, ‘deeper than the deeps of sex,’ even as it includes some adolescent sexual experimentation … Dylan's biography, for all its hurt and fear, is also an unbeatable hipster résumé, an honor roll of authenticity and cool … if Dylan is imprisoned in irony, narcissism and the other temperamental limitations of his – why be coy, our – generation of overeducated whiteboys, Mingus's incarceration is more literal, and the book is at its most daring and least self-conscious in making his life more tragedy than case study … The naturalistic geography of a borough Lethem knows like the back of his hand is illuminated by a daub of magic realism, when Dylan and Mingus come into possession of a ring that gives them super powers.
RaveThe New York Times Sunday Book ReviewGilead and Home stand together, in part, as twinned portraits of these godly, elderly patriarchs … Even as Robinson’s deep and unsentimental fondness for Ames and Boughton is as evident as their devotion to each other, her judgment of them and what they represent is uncompromising and severe. Home is a book full of doubleness and paradox, at once serene and volcanic, ruthless and forgiving. It is an anguished pastoral, a tableau of decency and compassion that is also an angry and devastating indictment of moral cowardice and unrepentant, unacknowledged sin … Home and Gilead are marvelous novels about family, friendship and aging. But they are great novels — or perhaps two installments in a single, as yet unfinished great novel — about race and religion in American life.
PositiveThe New York Times Sunday ReviewDíaz shows impressive high-low dexterity, flashing his geek credentials, his street wisdom and his literary learning with equal panache … Díaz’s novel also has a wild, capacious spirit, making it feel much larger than it is. Within its relatively compact span, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao contains an unruly multitude of styles and genres...Holding all this together — just barely, but in the end effectively — is a voice that is profane, lyrical, learned and tireless, a riot of accents and idioms coexisting within a single personality … This is a novel of assimilation, a fractured chronicle of the ambivalent, inexorable movement of the children of immigrants toward the American middle class, where the terrible, incredible stories of what parents and grandparents endured in the old country have become a genre in their own right.
Jonathan Safran Foer
PositiveThe AtlanticPerhaps without meaning to—because really, who would set out to do such a thing?—Foer has made a significant contribution to the emerging literature of the Gen X male’s midlife crisis. Here I Am belongs in the diffident, self-conscious company of Ben Lerner’s 10:04 and Sam Lipsyte’s The Ask ... despite his overly demonstrative efforts to be fair to her, Julia is finally a bit of a cipher. She’s the cold mom, the distant wife, the skeptical spectator in the circus tent of big-boy feelings ... Here I Am is a maddening, messy, marvelously contradictory novel.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewTomine’s lines are so clean and precise, his compositions so natural-looking, that it’s easy to treat his images as transparent vessels of meaning, the cellophane wrapper enfolding the tart, bright candy of the plot. But even his smallest, plainest panels are heavy with subtext, thick with unstated emotion and full of the kind of information that can never quite be conveyed in language.