RaveThe New York TimesIn [Oyeyemi\'s] hands, the realm of lore and the so-called \'real world\' exert a gravitational pull on each other, resulting in unexpected amalgamations of Bluebeard and Yoruban folk tales, Tinder and talking dolls, and complex, unconventional characters who tug the trajectory of recognizable tales out of the ruts and grooves of a well-traveled road. With her newest novel, Oyeyemi ventures away from these familiar shapes, though not from the playful reinvention of genres and tropes ... The first half of the novel borrows its momentum from the train itself, barreling forward toward an unknown destination of unknown import, lurching back and forth between the interiors of eccentrically decorated train cars and the playfully enigmatic interiorities of the characters. Oyeyemi is a master of leaps of thought and inference, of shifty velocity, and the story’s long setup has the discombobulating quality of walking through a moving vehicle while carrying a full-to-the-brim cup of very hot tea ... The lure of real connection and real resolution, their transformative power turning an obscure object of pursuit into a steadfast counterpart, moves the cast of characters toward denouement in much the same way that a death motivates investigation in a locked-door murder mystery ... at the book’s end the story lands more Patricia Highsmith than Agatha Christie: a maze of identity and desire that has an ending, but not a solution. Every piece of the puzzle falls into place, but the picture is never made whole. Perhaps this is Oyeyemi’s point: To be at peace with the vagaries of human connection, you have to learn to find the wholeness in every part.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewGabbert draws masterly portraits of the precise, uncanny affects that govern our psychological relationship to calamity — from survivor’s guilt to survivor’s elation, to the awe and disbelief evoked by spectacles of destruction, to the way we manage anxiety over impending dangers. Even more impressive is her skill at bending crisp, clear language into shapes that illustrate the shifting logic of the disastrous, keeping the reader oriented amid continual upheaval ... Gabbert turns her attention to the blind spots and mistaken impressions that constitute our subjective experience of self and world, from false memories and phantom limbs to witch trials and compassion fatigue ... With its expansive curiosity and encyclopedic style, Gabbert’s book can make for unsettling reading, especially in a time of actual crisis ... The essays often seem uncannily to anticipate circumstances that the author simply couldn’t have known about: They have a clarity and prescience that imply a sort of distant, retrospective view, like postcards sent from the near future ... But I imagine Gabbert would offer an alternate explanation for this oracular effect. Increasingly, the threats and fissures that mark our reality are known, but this doesn’t make them any easier to comprehend. It’s only when a potential disaster turns actual that it becomes real to us — and in that moment it will still feel incomprehensible, impossible, unforeseen.
RaveVanity Fair[Moshfegh] is adept at crafting dark, compelling female characters who violate the rules of femininity ... It’s a sly refusal of the imperative to self-care, the opposite of leaning in ... Moshfegh’s protagonist is an unlikely revolutionary ... [My Year of Rest and Relaxation] serves as a reminder that there is something to life outside of the economic exchange of time for money and money for goods, even if that unnamed thing is obscure and perplexing and just a bit monstrous—particularly in a woman. Literature may not have all the answers, but it can show us the power and allure of saying \'No.\'
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewWhen Watched, Leopoldine Core’s first collection of short stories, dwells in the realm of the sparkling mundane, the type of human matter that is invitingly recognizable, the type of matter that you yourself have participated in or observed ...in the third person and unfolding almost in real time, Core’s stories have a voyeuristic quality, like peering through the windows of a ground-floor apartment as you walk by ...tart, muted tone of Core’s narrative voice has earned her comparisons to Mary Gaitskill, Jane Bowles and even William Burroughs, but these references don’t do justice to the intimacy and relative gentleness with which the author treats her group of modern, often millennial drifters ...a startling and elegant manifestation of the author’s insistence that gravity unfolds unwilled in the midst of regular life, a sort of miracle that can occur only when you watch, wait and observe.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review...in New People, her captivating and incisive fifth book, Danzy Senna has crafted a tragicomic novel that powerfully conjures the sense of optimism once associated with future racial transcendence, even as it grounds that idealism in a present that bears more than just a family resemblance to the racialized past ... New People questions whether the notion of racial liberation truly offers a solution to the unfinished work of racial justice. It may also cause you to question whether completion is, in fact, a virtue.