RaveThe Boston Globe... spine-bending suspense...nothing like we expect ... This alternating structure [in flashbacks and present action], which replicates Molly’s juggling act, ratchets up the suspense—if a bit artificially ... Between chills, readers will notice the pleasures of Phillips’s prose. Her style combines the sensibility of a poet with the forward drive of a thriller. (One might say she juggles the two.) Her sentences have a strong, flexible music evocative not only of the action in progress but the feelings that accompany it. Its rhythm can be staccato ... At other times it’s incantatory, a mounting drumbeat of dread ... Phillips’s crystalline style vividly evokes her characters. She draws them so precisely that before we know it, we’re deep inside their lives ... We’re no longer so sure that Molly, in her eternal maternal weariness, is hallucinating ... Read this bewitching, fiercely original novel and find out.
PositiveThe Boston Globe...The Red Garden, is not, properly speaking, a novel at all. It’s a collection of 14 stories set in Blackwell, Mass., a fictional village deep in the woods of the Berkshires. Beginning with Blackwell’s founding in 1786 by a handful of inept, unprepared settlers, these stories span more than 200 years ...against a background of far-off historical events Hoffman sets the ongoing life of one small town and its episodic interaction with the natural world that surrounds it ... The strongest stories in The Red Garden are those in which the folktale form, despite its prescribed simplicity of perspective and voice, allows Hoffman’s gifts as a storyteller ample scope ... In the less effective stories here, the folk-tale form exhibits the defects of its virtues. Simplicity degenerates into simplification.
RaveThe Boston GlobeThis is a terrific novel! Read it! Why? First of all, there's the novel's generosity. Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss spans continents, generations, cultures, religions, and races … As events unfold, the novel alternates between Kalimpong and New York. At the same time, it shuttles back and forth between Sai's youth and that of her Anglophile grandfather, Jemu. Through Jemu, a Third World Horatio Alger, we experience the post-colonial era in all the cruelty of its old, ingrained hatreds and prejudices. Through Sai we experience the precarious present … The Inheritance of Loss offers all of the pleasures of traditional narrative in a form and a voice that are utterly fresh.