PositiveThe Chicago TribuneCall Me by Your Name is a meditation on the tenuous and sometimes evanescent underpinnings of desire, almost irrespective of its object … Probably all loves appear to be unique from the inside. It is a challenge for any writer to convey ardor without risking silliness, but Aciman balances Elio well on his psychic precipice … Descriptions of sexual acts in Call Me by Your Name tend to be direct and not elliptical (one scene involving a piece of food might remind some of Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint) but are far from prurient, and while they loom large to Elio in a psychological sense, they do not occupy much of the novel.
PositiveThe Chicago TribuneIgnore details of story and circumstance, and connections between The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and Cloud Atlas are evident, many of which relate to the nature of belief, to pernicious ideas of racial superiority, to conscience … Part thriller, part love story, part a tale of vengeance achieved at a too-high price, part argument on behalf of humanistic values, still the novel relies on its smaller parts for emotional movement, not its grander gestures … Mitchell has developed a way of allowing the world to speak its own mind, too, almost as if it existed outside the narrative stream. Throughout The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, he inserts one-liners that approach haiku in their terse form and imagistic content. Sometimes lightly satirical, sometimes ominous, they read as commentary on the action taking place around them.
RaveThe New York Times Sunday Book ReviewDespite her name, Roseanne Clear is hardly transparent. A wary reticence and sincere befuddlement tend to muddy her conversations with Dr. William Grene, senior psychiatrist at Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital, whose commonplace journal renders him a co-narrator of The Secret Scripture. Their interaction, complete with its silences, works its way into their respective self-searching accounts of life, forming the loose catechism of the novel … Circumstances require that the doctor and his patient play cat and mouse. He is intent on assessing her competence and discovering her history, while she dissembles self-protectively, ‘a foul and utter lie being the best answer’ when he asks about the circumstances of her admittance … Many angelic references and much religious imagery are to be found here (slaughtered lambs, for example), but at the root of it all is the lambent quality of experience, not religion per se. Much of the real joy of reading Barry is in the bobbing freshet of his language.
PositiveThe Chicago TribuneThe tree that Lethem grows in Brooklyn is named Dylan (after Bob Dylan), and for most of his early life he is the lone white child in a black and Latino neighborhood. The tensions, understandings and misunderstandings of this complex setting form the first half of The Fortress of Solitude … One notable, and respectable, aspect of Fortress is that its main character is hardly a heartwarming creature. Dylan is self-interested in childhood and adulthood, where he becomes a music writer, and it adds to his realism … A stylish meditation on childhood, couplehood, race, depression, sexuality, imagination, the oddities of public taste and motherless Brooklyn.
MixedThe Chicago TribuneMitchell casts time and space, and language itself sometimes, in diffuse arrangements where the rules of narrative physics don't seem to apply. Actions echo other actions, but are unrelated in the traditional sense of plot … Mitchell bends the English language differently in each case, in some instances using dialect of his own invention that requires a little extra attention from the reader...one gets the sense he is mimicking, and perhaps gently mocking, the conventions of 19th Century travelogues, epistolary novels, sci-fi novels and whodunits, each in turn … Some of Mitchell's sections are quite brilliant and moving, while a couple devolve to the pedestrian, marring the overall effect of the novel.
PositiveThe Chicago Tribune… [a] street-slangy, lit-punning, Caribbean-American novel of race, post-colonialism, brutality, family and love, not to mention extended virginity … Yunior writes in retrospect sometime after 1995, but in shifting time frames the book ranges over the preceding half-century, back to 1944, and surveys police-state repression, racism, poverty and good old intrafamily tensions, be it in the Dominican Republic or the U.S … an energetic and at points startling book.