PositiveThe AtlanticKim Young-ha recognizes, and challenges, [the] cultural sympathy for the serial killer with his recent collection of short stories, Diary of a Murderer ... Obsession—that relatable character flaw—rather than a twisted morality, becomes the reader’s uneasy point of identification with Kim’s protagonists. A similarly myopic self-interest surfaces even within Kim’s most altruistic-seeming characters ... Kim’s use of pastiche—diary entries, jotted-down notes, snippets from a recorder Byeongsu wears around his neck—to re-create Byeongsu’s interactions with his dementia draws readers deeply into the protagonist’s voice. This peripatetic self-awareness, patchworked together through his disease, makes him a compelling narrator ... As he drifts in and out of his memories, readers’ various interpretations of the truth will act as a Rorschach test—assessing the limits of their faith in him. But Kim asks, compellingly, why readers might be so eager to believe him in the first place.
Yukiko Motoya, trans. by Asa Yoneda
PositiveThe Atlantic\"The 11 short stories in this collection, translated by Asa Yoneda, range in tone from ominous thrillers to lighthearted folktales, but they always seem to return to a depletion of self ... Motoya’s prose is earnest and casual, as if the writer is trying to convince a friend of a persistent but invisible pest. In The Lonesome Bodybuilder, the pest is always a yawning disconnect between people ... Motoya’s women exist most vividly in their own heads, a state of being that often leaves them feeling alone in a crowd ... Motoya’s eerie touches allow the characters to embrace inconvenient and irrational parts of themselves; at moments when self-doubt is making them flounder, these otherworldly intrusions act as a corrective force.\
PositiveThe Village VoiceCruel and poetic lines populate Kumarasamy’s writing, buttressing the indignities her creations are forced to suffer with some beauty. Even then, she leaves us with a sense that a larger world, full of possibility, exists somewhere out there.
PositiveThe Village VoiceReaders are granted rich descriptions of decadent foods and New York nightlife through the ages, alongside brutal descriptions of self-sabotage... [Blum] takes on the difficult task of rendering generational trauma visible, and does it with such humor and empathy, you can’t help but be swept along for the ride.
PositiveThe Village VoiceWhat’s the opposite of a love story? In Senna’s world, it’s a darkly comic psychological thriller. Her latest, New People, finds a wayward mixed-race academic named Maria fixating on an unnamed black poet and launching into the sublime destruction of her picture-perfect life ... Senna has written previously about the fault lines of identity (Caucasia) and unrequited passions that give way to obsession (Symptomatic), but in Maria’s unmoored reawakening she finds a cathartic release for universal anxieties around these themes ...has a talent for maintaining a rapport with readers even when Maria is at her most self-indulgent — and despite Maria herself being a less than likable character ...Senna’s antiheroine is winningly vulnerable when trying to make a home of a person, and New People is at its best when it delves into the worlds of Maria’s construction, or reconstruction.
PositiveThe Village VoiceWhatever you want to call it, the result is a languid, complex, and stylish primer for our post-truth world ... The compact stage Lopez builds around his characters makes room for their musings on the quotidian, related by a hapless narrator who knows either too much or too little ... You can't trust what anyone says, even if you thoroughly enjoy how they're saying it. Lopez says he works primarily on the sentence level, and it shows. With one sleight against convention, he manages to transform pleasant chitchat into electric prose ... Despite the narrator's penchant for relaying academic-sounding essays, Lopez methodically undermines the idea of the omniscient storyteller, revealing how easy it is to forge fact out of fiction. In the age of alternative facts, Lopez is the unlikely source of a timely lesson.