PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe effect is that the tide’s push and pull settle into a horizon, a plotline that’s both repetitive and linear. Small Days and Nights thrives on these pushes and pulls, allowing opposites to coexist ... Although Small Days and Nights succeeds in its first-person narrative...by the middle of the book Grace’s listlessness and confusion can become tiresome ... What work best are the book’s language and the evocation of South India ... most impressively, her focus never wavers ... Doshi keeps the pendulum swinging until the very last page.
MixedThe New York Times Book Review...Qurratulain Hyder’s epic novel, River of Fire is as relevant in 2019 as it was when she first wrote it in 1959 ... Oversimplified, the book is about partition: about life before and after. But Hyder, who died in 2007, transforms this singularity into cyclical phenomena. History repeats itself from era to era, enduring rift after rift, until the reader is primed for the ultimate split, of one country into two—even if her characters aren’t ... It takes inventive writing to evoke such a seasonal narrative ... What makes Hyder harder to enjoy is that she doesn’t give readers enough time to catch their breath. Sometimes 100 years pass in a chapter, at other times in a line break. Group dialogue reads like a serious play rather than friends gossiping over tea. Letters and monologues become dense with rhetoric ... In River of Fire time is running in circles. Even if that isn’t entirely pleasant for the reader, Hyder’s tone of confused déjà vu seems appropriate for the subject matter. The relationship between India and Pakistan continues: fraught, repetitive, no end in sight.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewThe book shuttles between Mrs. Sharma’s secret persona and her family role. Kapur writes in the first person, so the narrative is messy and surprising, guiding the reader’s curiosity to the denouement ... Her tone is candid, yet cautious; part diary, part confession. But for a story so dependent on facts, chronology and pacing, this subjectivity is frustrating, not suspenseful ... This novel is Mrs. Sharma’s chance to reflect on what she has actually done. Her words reveal a dignity more private and complex than society can perceive. The book is worthwhile, and quick to read — perfect for your train ride to work.
PositiveElectric LiteratureLike her descriptive sentences, Nadzam’s dialogue sings, it’s so smooth ... But Nadzam’s strength isn’t merely possessing words that roll off the tongue. She also has a knack for building her sleepy, sleepless, rustic, neglected town out of a trifecta of color, pattern, and movement. Like the book’s cover, Lions is suffused with blue.
PositiveThe Washington PostUsing language that is both candid and askew, Watson infuses the story with curiosity, uncertainty, and, not unlike Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex, a certain wildness ... Miss Jane covers a quiet, often solitary lifetime enriched by the unfettered outdoors, the tough routine of farm life, and the ache of unconsummated love. Watson’s characters are mentally dexterous in spite of their physical hardship. The book plays on the tongue like an oyster — first salty, then cold — before slipping away to be consumed and digested.
MixedThe AtlanticHow To Set A Fire And Why deliberately keeps Lucia at a distance from readers, and the result is that she sometimes feels more like a too-clever trope than a person ... Like any teenager, Lucia is searching for answers. But she doesn’t like to ask questions; instead, she acts. She doesn’t ask what happened to her mother, even for her readers’ benefit; she simply visits her every week. She doesn’t talk about her father, instead she keeps him in her pocket, in the form of his old Zippo that she can light on command and bring to life ... To Ball’s credit, Lucia at least subverts the angry young man trope by being female. But for all of the author’s earlier literary triumphs, keeping pace with Lucia is frustrating, especially when she seems to be laughing at readers’ attempts to do so.
PositiveThe Washington PostSundaram is thorough, even when the news is bad ... But he leaves little space for self-reflection, and readers may wonder if Sundaram himself fears for his life, as his students stop attending his class, go into hiding or are arrested. In writing this book Sundaram surely put himself at risk, and it is a testament to his bravery that he did so without drawing undue attention to its personal cost.