PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... often exquisite ... Mendelsund’s contained language takes flight ... Unfortunately, the novel picks up an annoying passenger: the narrator, who goes from unobtrusive chronicler to unruly guest at his own dinner party, sidetracking the reader with tales of his own unsettled adolescence and popping his head through the fourth wall to undercut his increasingly parenthesis-saddled account of the delivery boy’s adventures. The book — each section of which opens with an epigram from Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations — eventually bogs down in philological digression ... Despite the overreach, Mendelsund shines a piercing light on a bottom-rung existence. As delivery takes on a meaning closer to grace, you root hard for the deliverer.
RaveThe AtlanticOne of the more cogent novels this year on the fertile tensions that exist between culture and technology … Sloan uses food as the centerpiece of a tricky but intoxicating exchange about authenticity and ownership, and about taking and sharing: What, exactly, is culture? And how should society best appreciate it? It’s no coincidence that Beoreg refers to his sourdough starter in the biological sense: as culture, a collection of cells that must be cultivated to thrive … If in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Sloan suggested that books hold the secrets and lessons of a culture, in Sourdough, he decides books serve as maps, while food carries the everlasting stories.
PositiveThe MillionsStartup may have read as satire a decade ago but feels like historical record today. Shafrir’s precise eye for detail takes stock of the tech industry’s favorite answers for tough questions ... Startup is about more than business. It navigates the rocky foundation of relationships, journalism’s importance, sexual harassment, and digital careerism. It’s about how all those things blend together, particularly as women come into power and the world around them reacts ... The plotlines move with momentum, perhaps because backstory is scarce. While we get to know the main characters by observing their daily lives, we rarely get a glimpse of how they got there. The novel is most relatable when it touches on the inner turmoil of its characters.