PositiveThe Guardian (UK)With Morrison\'s characteristic flashbacks, time-shifts and multiple points of view, Love unearths the secret, tangled histories of those who inhabited the Cosey resort before, during and after the civil rights movement ... Interpreting the will is a key theme: fragments of dislodged memory constantly force a re-evaluation of personal and national history, and of Cosey himself, who is both admirable and despicable ... Morrison exposes the instability of the houses men build from their dreams, destroyed by the passions of their inhabitants, living and dead ... The stylistic stripping away of love leaves this novel lacking in the sustained intensity of The Bluest Eye or Beloved. But Morrison compellingly exploits the silences to reveal the possibility - and necessity - of linguistic transparency ... Love\'s power lies in the luminosity and energy of its poetic images, set off against the narrative obscurity and laced with horror and beauty.
RaveThe Guardian (UK)The story begins when the schoolgirls have almost finished studying \'all of Israeli history. We finished the history of the world in 10th grade\'. Yet this narrative\'s power lies in its revelation of hidden histories, the way it opens up the inner emotional worlds of its characters beyond news headlines ... The girls are often lost for words, but the author successfully finds a voice to express the dehumanising horror of warfare in this fragmented plot held together with a passionate, poetic eloquence.
David Foster Wallace
PositiveThe Guardian (UK)Foster Wallace suggests that language inadequately expresses such elusive existence, yet \'is all we have to form anything larger or more meaningful and true with anybody else\' ... Rejecting \'one-word-after-another word English\', Foster Wallace\'s idiosyncratic prose captures the \'internal head-speed\' of those rapidly losing the plot, mimicking the loopy narratives of their self-defeating involutions ... Detail is both the delight and downfall of these stories ... Reading Foster Wallace is exhausting, but his dazed, somnambulant narrators offer something morally important in their struggles to escape from or embrace the oblivion rolling towards them. These stories are stunning - in both senses of the word.
RaveThe Guardian (UK)What holds this novel together, stops it from becoming saturated with sorrow, is a wit so sharp it hurts to laugh at certain scenes. Toews evocatively conjures landscapes, from the small town in which the family live to the \'dark, jagged outcroppings of the great Canadian Shield\'. She also takes us on a heart-rending journey through her characters’ emotional landscapes, via the cruel terrain of despair in which Elf becomes stranded, shedding light on the darkest of places.
RaveThe ObserverThe mother/daughter relationship is the most moving aspect of this excellent book, and as Cass becomes a mother herself the novel asks, to what extent can harmful patterns be broken? And in the bleakest moments of our lives – when we tragically replicate hurt and lose what we most love – in what ways does music console and redeem? This engaging, emotionally charged novel about music, motherhood and mental illness deserves to be a hit.
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
PositiveThe ObserverThe laser-sharp intelligence of Jhabvala is etched into these 17 compelling tales ... The writer’s talent is best on display in the tension she creates between the pleasures and pains of passion and the slick composure of her prose.
PositiveThe GuardianArchitecture is a powerful motif in Elif Shafak’s intricate, multilayered new novel, which excels both in its resplendent details and grand design ...the finely wrought narrative is a beguiling baby elephant “as white as boiled rice” who becomes best friend to 12-year-old Jahan...ties that bind crisscross the complex story, and when the elephant is ordered to be sent as a gift to the sultan, such is the bond between boy and beast that Jahan becomes a stowaway...Jahan, who soon falls in love with the sultan’s daughter, becomes an apprentice to the sultan’s architect, Sinan, who teaches him how to build 'harmony and balance' within and without... Shafak excellently explores metaphorical bridge-building, too, between classes and cultures. This edifying, emotionally forceful novel shows how hate and envy destroy, and how love might build the world anew.
MixedThe GuardianTracing how brotherly bonds become broken by violent politics, it is suffused with sadness … This is a novel in which the most tender of ties are torn asunder, and Lahiri traces these lives as they become haunted by the absence of loved ones … The ambitious, if uneven narrative traces the tensions between husband and wife, and between mother and daughter, as Gauri's parental instinct battles with her yearning for independence.