PositiveThe Los Angeles TimesThis small book, intensely personal, is a new exercise in vulnerability ... In Notes on Grief, by turns fierce, tender and raw, [Adichie] reveals a more private self ... This is a cathartic work for Adichie, a way to keep alive the spirit of her father by telling his stories. And in her writing, he shines as a man of deep kindness and integrity, a dry wit and successful academic who was unstinting in his support of his daughter’s ambitions.
PositiveLos Angeles Times... a slim, sparse book, a series of essayistic vignettes examining the travails of a solitary woman on the verge of an existential breakdown ... mournful...though tinged with a more muted sense of sorrow and dislocation. It signals a new mode for Lahiri as well, and an even more daring transformation ... Lahiri’s novel circles around the anguish of a self turned in on itself ... Whereabouts....simmers on a low boil ... true and wise to the core.
Nona Fernández, tr. Natasha Wimmer
RaveBOMBit is a work of historical excavation—assembling, examining, and ultimately purging the suppressed memories of her country. Blending fact and fiction, Fernández offers a social autopsy of the era ... Hers is a psychic exorcism, a personal reckoning with Chile and its ghosts ... With The Twilight Zone, Fernández has written a novel with the urgency and power of the most remarkable works of witness, made all the more striking by its stylistic shifts in language and perspective ... The Twilight Zone is its own museum of memory, haunted, like Morales, by the voices of the disappeared.
RaveNew York Times Book ReviewManuel Vilas writes both novels and poetry, and this book falls somewhere in between. It’s a meditation on yearning, solitude and self; a soul storm, a mirage of phantom figures—resurrected images of dead ancestors, childhood memories, the changing face of Spain itself. And all of these visions come in waves to Manuel after his parents’ deaths, as he struggles to make sense of his own midlife sorrow and emptiness. It’s a book of deep reckoning—of the meaningful and mundane—but written with an airy, even whimsical touch ... Chapters follow one another quickly, teasing out half-repressed memories and truths, often capped by abrupt, one-line epiphanies. Despite the melancholy at its heart, this is ultimately a book of light—of sunlight streaming through Manuel’s ghost-filled apartment, of magical summer holidays in a place called Ordesa in the foothills of the Pyrenees, of the lost paradise of his parents in the flush of youth.
Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong'o
PositiveLos Angeles TimesKenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong’o — a towering figure of contemporary African literature and theory — is as fiercely prolific as ever ... It is Ngugi writing in oracular mode, looking back at his country as if from a great distance of space and time ... While The Perfect Nine may seem like something of a departure for Ngugi, the book maintains his immersion in questions of African oral tradition and the politics of language.
Marie Ndiaye, trans. by John Fletcher
PositiveWords Without BordersDespite its title, Three Strong Women is not, strictly speaking, about three women; nor are the women who do appear particularly strong or powerful. In fact, the women of NDiaye’s loosely connected triptych find themselves in precarious situations, physically and emotionally, even as they inhabit vastly different, though intersecting, worlds ... These crisscrossing lives and unsteady unions caught between Europe and Africa beg the question: Who is escaping, and who has arrived? The novel works wonderfully as a triptych, the stories carefully echoing and extending each other. And even if there is some unevenness (the first section can seem stilted and wooden compared to the parts that follow), in the end the book comes together, especially as Khady does discover the key to her own internal strength and willpower.
Perumal Murugan, Trans. by Aniruddhan Vasudevan
PositiveVanity FairMurugan brings a playful, fable-like quality to his tale of traditional values and their subversion...steeped in the rural prejudices of the past yet still managed to inflame the ire of Hindu chauvinists when first published in English in India in 2013.
PositiveThe Washington PostWhen we first encounter him, Agu is cowering in the darkness, hiding with other villagers as rebels ransack their homes. His father has been butchered; his mother and sister are missing. The world as he knows it has been permanently ruptured. He quakes in fear, a mosquito-like droning in his ears, as the soldiers decide to recruit him and spare his life … Iweala's novel lurches through the days and nights of Agu's transformation into brute and brutalized soldier, awash in blood and gore … Iweala's personification of an African child soldier is stripped-down and terrifyingly immediate.