RaveLibrary JournalWarrell plays her exceptional first novel with plenty of rhythm and tenderness, delivered in brisk, mordantly gorgeous language that has its own natural flow ... Each woman has her own life, her own story—none is defined by Circus, though all are touched by him—and as in any good jazz piece these stories play off one another seamlessly. In the end, Circus isn’t just damager but damaged, coming to terms with his limits and learning to reach out, an understanding that Warrell movingly delivers ... A highly recommended story of love and life that makes beautiful music.
PositiveLibrary Journal... intriguing, mostly successful ... Unexpectedly light in tone, Stevens’s story of patriarchal abuse is sadly familiar in outline. What stands out, aside from the powerful rendering of Chopin’s music, is the daring, desire-drenched Blanca. For a historical character, she can sound annoyingly like a contemporary teenager, but readers of all stripes will embrace her.
RaveLibrary Journal... a brilliant study of art, politics, male dominance, female passion, and the commercialized art world in the early 2010s ... highly recommended novel of art and heart that viscerally represents the act of creation while balancing multiple themes to perfection.
RaveLibrary Journal... expertly crafted ... Mantel clarifies the significance of ordinary lives, showing how each of us is a fuse (burning faster or slower) and how each of us can hurt ... A highly recommended collection quietly probing our deep, everyday sorrows.
PositiveLibrary JournalRuthlessly beautiful ... A turn toward horror at the end will satisfyingly rachet up the tension for some readers but may discomfit others. Told in stunning language, Armfield’s heartrending story of two people forced apart by trauma is enough.
Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes
PositiveLibrary JournalWinner of the BOA Short Fiction Prize, this follow-up to Fuentes’s debut novel, The Sleeping World, bracingly profiles women in the Armando Castell family, originally from Cuba but \'strewn across tiny islands and vast continents\' and over decades as well...Lyrical if tough-minded stories linked by their strong portraiture of women who resist being appropriated by anyone
PositiveLibrary JournalConklin offers a first collection presenting queer, gender-nonconforming, and trans characters in a series of briskly told narratives ... Throughout, Conklin is gracefully multi-note as they reveal the complexities of queer relationships, always allowing their characters to be themselves.
RaveLibrary JournalShipstead displays luminous, exacting language as she demonstrates her flair for creating distinctive characters who deal more or less successfully with what life has handed them ... Essential for fiction lovers.
RaveLibrary JournalIrish author Barrett, who debuted with the multi-awarding-winning collection Young Skins, returns nearly a decade later with a collection whose characters are somewhat older and more often anguished than angry ... Barrett’s mostly dogged characters live hardscrabble lives, and in this strong second collection—not a repeat act—readers become involved in the simple but crucial issue of how they will manage.
Marytza K Rubio
PositiveLibrary Journal... iridescent ... Purveying characters (both women and animals) with otherworldly powers, Rubio steps across the thin border between life and a dangerous beyond to consider what such payments might entail ... the narrative sometimes overreaches but remains a lush tour de force ... A vividly accomplished debut.
RaveLibrary Journal... exemplary ... what’s impressive is how much play Bieker gives all her characters ... A powerful collection; highly recommended.
RaveLibrary JournalA resonant and pointedly perceptive story about family, Middle East history, and creating new narratives, whether as individuals or nations.
Andrea Yaryura Clark
PositiveLibrary Journal... vividly rendered ... Both heartbreaking and race-to-the-end suspenseful, as secrets will out that starkly reveal the tragedy of Argentina’s Dirty War.
David Wright Falade
RaveLibrary JournalProfoundly reflective ... A triumphant examination of U.S. history and race relations at a crucial juncture, as seen through the eyes of the well-wrought, ever-questing Etheridge; highly recommended.
RaveLibrary JournalAnxious, propulsive reading ... In language crisper and more direct than Shuggie Bain’s, if still spiked with startling similes, Stuart heightens his exploration of the sibling bond and the inexplicable hatred between Glasgow’s Protestants and Catholics, while contrasting Mungo’s tenderly conveyed queer awakening with the awful counterpart of sexual violence. Highly recommended.
PositiveLibrary JournalA product of more than 10 years’ labor, this novel will ring out sharply in today’s pandemic world ... Nagamatsu blends literary and visionary verve in a narrative winning comparison to Cloud Atlas and Station Eleven.
RaveLibrary Journal... a courageous and sometimes gut-wrenching picture of rigidly held caste and religious hatreds, preening male privilege, extreme misogyny, and age-old corruption that spill into horrific violence. Yet Umrigar gives us a rounded perspective that shows how India still resonates with Smita and how it leads her to imagine a new and better nation, as represented by Meena’s idealistic late husband, Abdul ... Highly recommended.
PositiveLibrary JournalStrout creates characters so developed, so human and flawed, that readers might feel frustrated with them, as one would with a friend or family member ... A fine examination of relationships that asks how well one can know someone, even after years together, but it’s sometimes hard to connect to the narrative. William is rather awful, which might leave readers wondering why so many women’s lives revolve around such men. Perhaps that is Strout’s point.
Myriam J A Chancy
RaveLibrary JournalGuyana Prize–winning Chancy (The Loneliness of Angels) uses precise, exquisite language and deftly interlinked stories to convey not simply a visceral understanding of what happened that day, of the suffering incurred and the mutual support given even as help from abroad stuttered, but a portrait of Haiti itself ... All are remarkable and remarkably drawn characters whose heartrending experiences convey what it’s like \'having to live in the after, always, remembering the before\' ... A highly recommended account of a terrible tragedy that also illuminates the deep interconnectedness of Haitian society.
RaveLibrary JournalDecidedly outsiders and mostly young people (even Zeno’s plot is partly backstory of his difficult early years), these characters are deftly maneuvered by the capable Doerr. What results is a glorious golden mesh of stories that limns the transformative power of literature and our need both to dream big and to arrive back home in a world that will eventually flow on without us ... Highly recommended.
RaveLibrary JournalThe narrative...considers issues from consumerism and environmental disaster, to mental health and our relationship with Made and Unmade objects. Arcing over all is Benny’s big question: How do we know what is real? Rich to overflowing and utterly engaging, Ozeki’s work wants us to listen to the world.
PositiveLibrary Journal... genial ... The crises here aren’t huge, but they are real and insightfully played as Johnson delivers a satisfying understanding of life’s constant vagaries.
PositiveLibrary Journal... a ruthlessly exact study of the damage done to women—and that women sometimes do to themselves—in the search for love and belonging ... the result is relentless but never wearing, not preachment but real lived pain, and akin to standing in a hurricane with razor blades flying. There’s blood at the end—and a glimmer of self-affirmation ... Offering a gutsily refocused look at the male–female power exchange, Taddeo brings Joan to awareness and some agency, challenging women to reconsider assumptions and desires framed by men even as she viscerally registers all the reasons for women’s anger. A brilliant if uncomfortable provocation, sometimes messily intense but willing to take risks; likely to stir talk—and argument.
RaveLibrary JournalOnce again, Cusk delivers a novel so thorny with ideas that every sentence merits a careful reading, yet crafted in language as ringingly clear as fine crystal ... It’s wrenching reading, yet in the end M has gracefully readjusted her life, as L has not ... A gorgeously sculpted story of living and learning; for all readers.
Kirstin Valdez Quade
RaveLibrary Journal... a profoundly affecting story that smoothly expands to include the lives of family, friends, and the entire community of hardscrabble Las Penas ... Expertly crafted, this story of family and community introduces us to often needy characters for whom readers come to care deeply. Highly recommended.
Andrew J. Graff
RaveLibrary JournalThe characters are expertly drawn in their shifting relationships, and the two boys\' closeness and bravery are especially affecting. Realistically, they have moments of genuine tension in a narrative that is both an engaging adventure and a profound reflection on human bonding, what it means to be a man (and a good one), and the importance of persevering. Indeed, some iteration of the word hope appears nearly 100 times in the book, yet the result is never treacly; facing the life issues examined here in an unforgiving if beautifully rendered wilderness is no easy feat ... Highly recommended, whether you want literate thrills or thoughtful, affirming meditation.
PositiveLibrary Journal... seductive, lyrically wrought ...The narrative can get a little lost in the gorgeous, reflective language but remains an absorbing study of memory and grief.
E. Lily Yu
RaveLibrary Journal... an evocative and heart-lacerating debut novel ... While Yu’s exactingly detailed story is told in the third person, the voices of the children predominate, which makes this wrenching portrait of the immigrant experience especially affecting ... Essential fiction to understand our world; Yu will draw in new fans while continuing to intrigue those who have read her for years.
PositiveLibrary JournalAn invigorating, informative read. Jill’s strong voice throughout gives a sense of immediacy, and the prose is punchy, economical, and wry. We learn how fishing quotas impact her town’s shaky economy and how gentrification is overtaking Maine’s harbor towns, a context that elevates the story beyond mere domestic drama.
RaveLibrary Journal... a multilayered, emotionally radiant second novel ... Hobson uses Cherokee tradition and the Echotas\' story to amplify each other, blending past and present in a narrative of blistering loss and final healing. Highly recommended.
Dantiel W. Moniz
RaveLibrary JournalMoniz has won multiple awards for her individual stories, and this excellent debut collection shows why. Focusing on marginalized communities and limning relationships, longing, and our uneasy passage through a world that often confounds us, she nails aching moments of naked human emotion in direct if luscious language ... What gives the collection coherence is Moniz’s distinctive vision ... Highly recommended; catch this writer early in her game.
Marjolijn van Heemstra, Trans. By Jonathan Reeder
PositiveLibrary Journal... unsettling autofiction investigating issues of war, vengeance, and morality in a profoundly personal way ... what stands out here is van Heemstra’s sharp and nuanced exploration of just how moral one’s own law can be ... Striking portraiture of a fallen hero and the woman who finds him out; piecing together clues, van Heemstra keeps readers absorbed.
David Diop, tr. Anna Moschovakis
RaveLibrary Journal... unexpected musical cadence to the harrowing tale ... Diop gracefully backtracks to the early friendship of the two men, with Alfa acknowledging his haughty behavior toward Mademba the morning of his death as the novel veers toward a transcendent ending for them both ... Paris-born, Senegalese-raised Diop’s second novel is scalding, mesmerizing, and troubling in the best way. Highly recommended.
PositiveLibrary JournalThe story unfolds as oral history, delivered mostly by those who celebrate their stake in [Adrianne] —her clueless parents, a controlling self-styled boyfriend—resulting in a portrait that’s as much about the exploitation of the gifted as it is about the gift of music, of the artist’s exterior situation as it is of the artist’s interior world. Hajdu is excellent at articulating the vitality of Geffel’s music while leaving what it actually sounds like to our imagination ... A reverberant and eye-opening portrait of an artist going her own way and finally saving herself
RaveLibrary JournalCutting back and forth in time, the tight-knit, surprise-filled narrative slowly unravels this mystery while revealing the poignant backstories of both hostages and hostage taker, even as rattled nerves lead to some very funny exchanges. Meanwhile, the story of a suicide wrought by economic extremis quietly frames the action, unexpectedly tying together characters, and the brisk, absorbing action prompts meditation on marriage, parenting, responsibility, and global economic pressures ... Comedy, drama, mystery, and social study, this novel is undefinable except for the sheer reading pleasure it delivers. Highly recommended.
RaveLibrary JournalThis glimmering, painfully honest first novel tells the story of ten-year-old Misty, who lives in an Appalachian holler with her feuding parents and an older sister to whom she is closely bonded ... A beautifully rendered coming-of-age tale for a wide range of readers.
PositiveLibrary JournalIn a novel that’s smart, surprising, thought provoking, and bound to set a few readers on edge, making for good book-club debate, Pitlor offers an astute study of what it means to be a woman today.
RaveLibrary JournalThe slow revelation of a tragedy for which Franny feels responsible adds a thrillerlike dimension to an already involving narrative made stronger by the absence of time markers; it could be taking place in two years or 20 years, but it could just as well be happening today ... A consummate blend of issue and portrait, warning and affirmation, this heartbreaking, lushly written work is highly recommended.
PositiveLibrary JournalBennett\'s essentially a genial if slightly flummoxed guy, though his wittily sardonic side is revealed in the many asides to which readers are privy ... A painter herself, Russo makes the act of creating art come alive, while effectively limning her characters in this incisive study of contemporary life.
PositiveLibrary JournalSet within the vividly realized framework of addiction recovery and gay life in America, this remains the story of one man’s deep personal struggles while at the same time speaking to and for all the broken people in this world. Some readers may twitch at the long drug trip, but it’s a deeply felt journey that many will want to take.
Samanta Schweblin, trans. by Megan McDowell
PositiveLibrary JournalAs situations escalate, readers will be fascinated by the kentuki-human interactions, which smartly reveal how hungry we are for connection in a technology-bent world ... this jittery eye-opener will appeal to a wide range of readers.
Kristen Millares Young
PositiveLibrary JournalGorgeously, toughly written, this book dares to be open-ended yet leaves readers with a satisfying sense of how life really unfolds. Cultural clash matters here, but personal differences and desires even more. For any fiction reader looking beyond the obvious.
RaveLibrary Journal... elegant and affecting ... Both gorgeous paean to literature and historically astute observation; highly recommended for book lovers everywhere.
RaveLibrary JournalWeaving together these story lines, the author offers fresh, brisk, striking language while remaining relentless in her depiction of Jivan’s fate and of the kind of rampant suspicion and finally hatred that burns us all.
PositiveLibrary Journal... enthralling and ultimately heartening ... Though it can take a moment to catch on, the two intertwined narratives eventually speak back and forth ... Emphasizing throughout that stories matter and should never go untold, Wingate has written an absorbing historical for many readers.
PositiveLibrary Journal... uncompromising and absorbingly written ... 12-year-olds Junie and Izzie are murdered, and Engel does right by them, not using their tragedy as mere plot point to hook readers but genuinely letting us feel the rubbed-raw grief of Junie’s mother, Eve Taggert, and showing how it turns swiftly into action ... Not just a fine thriller but a fine character study, plumbing family and particularly mother-daughter relationships and showing Eve, her mother, and Izzie’s mother, too, as women unbendable as oak.
PositiveLibrary JournalIt’s chilling enough to read about Rose Gold’s suffering, but it’s just as chilling—and at times uncomfortably satisfying
RaveLibrary JournalMemoirist and award-winning children’s author Rosner challenges the Holocaust with a touch of magic (the yellow bird appears throughout), clarifying a dangerous time and place even as she offers a vibrant, affecting portrait of the mother-daughter relationship.
RaveLibrary JournalMost postapocalyptic novels bury us in blood or debris, but Krivak offers a completely different understanding of humans at the end of the line ... engagingly different ... As the narrative unfolds in graceful, luminous prose, the father teaches his young charge how to survive and tells her fantastical—or maybe not so fantastical—tales about bears. Throughout, the sense of wonder at nature\'s beauty is palpable ... Poignant but not tragic, this end-of-civilization story shows that there\'s no loneliness in this world when we are one with nature.
RaveLibrary JournalDeftly interwoven and emotionally involving, Atakora\'s accomplished debut...effectively handles the before-during-and-after structure, enriching her story. If its center is the vibrant Rue, the entire community finally feels like the main character. Highly recommended.
PositiveLibrary Journal... penetrating ... Edward does go forward, in illuminating if unexpected ways. But what makes this narrative so effective is its alternating between the ordinary events unfolding on the flight and the aftermath of the crash, which keeps the sense of loss and the significance of what has happened fresh in readers’ minds ... The painfully vivid story of one boy’s coming of age redirected by tragedy.
RaveLibrary JournalYoon, ever the elegant and penetrating writer, coolly delivers a devastating sense of what it’s like to be in the midst of war ... Their individual stories must be read (and not revealed here), but suffice to say that they don’t reconnect in that Hollywood way readers will want, which makes for a better and more arresting book ... Essential reading as Americans continue to grapple with our involvement in Asia and for anyone interested in top-drawer literature.
RaveLibrary JournalColvin’s absorbing and fluidly written debut novel captures an acute sense of ties loosened and rebound ... Throughout, the longing to define oneself for oneself vies with the powerful rootedness defined by Africaville, and the pain caused by shuffled-off family bonds is palpable ... Excellent reading that revives our sense of community while revealing North America’s racial complexity in a new light.
RaveLibrary JournalIn her debut novel, Reid illuminates difficult truths about race, society, and power with a fresh, light hand. We’re all familiar with the phrases white privilege and race relations, but rarely has a book vivified these terms in such a lucid, absorbing, graceful, forceful, but unforced way.
PositiveLibrary JournalIn a book both timely and prodigiously readable, Cummins offers an unrelenting and terrifyingly you-are-there account of a Mexican mother and son fleeing to America after cartel violence takes their entire family ... Cummins expertly balances the brutality of the cartel, its scary omniscience, and Lydia’s ululating fear with Lydia’s passionate commitment to Luca’s survival and the numerous small, brave acts of kindness she encounters that speed this duo north ... Here, it’s the journey rather than the arrival on American dirt that counts, and readers will wonder whether they could ever have survived such a trek even as they realize that this could happen to them. An important book.
RaveLibrary Journal... piercingly relevant, not only because the backstory continues to show how human rights can be eroded through a blend of power grab and compromise, but because it echoes international politics and the refugee crisis today ... With Cat’s Eye majesty, Atwood nails the spirit of these women as she investigates the head Aunt’s scary complexities ... If The Handmaid’s Tale chills to the marrow, its sequel surges along with a sort of dark ebullience, absorbing as a thriller and ultimately hopeful even as it highlights the dangers that always lie in wait.
RaveLibrary Journal... a magnificent quest, a sense of unfolding adventure and danger, gold-wrought fantasy, and endless provocation on what storytelling really means ... In the end, Morgenstern proves wrong one of her villains, who proclaims that a story is like an egg; break it, and it’s lost. Her stories flow together as they flow forward and will enthrall a wide range of readers. Highly recommended.
Carolina De Robertis
PositiveLibrary Journal... luscious and penetrating writing that founders only in the last pages, when a tragedy involving one of the women is rushed, simply not giving her her due ... de Robertis (The Gods of Tango) offers a story both personal and political, presenting the lives of five beautifully crafted individuals while making the torments of a repressive regime very real.
RaveLibrary JournalIn frank, unadorned language that pours stream of consciousness–like down the page, suggesting urgency and unbounded emotion, Zapruder offers a moving mediation on fatherhood ... Zapruder ably articulates his struggle...And he also confirms the special beauty his son brings ... A profoundly heartfelt and thoughtful book for all readers.
Carmen Gimenéz Smith
PositiveLibrary Journal... accomplished, vibrantly subversive ... Giménez Smith asks key questions in roiled times, and her greatest strength is nailing an outsider’s raw uncertainty, assumptions never made, immunity never achieved.
Young-Ha Kim Trans. by Krys Lee
PositiveLibrary JournalSpiky, quirky reading for all short story fans, whether of literary or pop bent.
Maylis De Kerangal Trans. by Sam Taylor
RaveLibrary Journal\"Not just a beautifully delineated character study or inside look at a hard way to make a living but a perceptive meditation on the meaning of work itself ... just over 100 pages and done brilliantly ... Highly recommended.\
Samanta Schweblin, Trans. by Megan McDowell
RaveLibrary JournalWomen\'s subjugation, our insatiable (perhaps bestial) urges, art as mediation, how little we control—Schweblin ponders weighty issues while spooking her readers ... Surreal, disturbing, and decidedly original, these pieces aren\'t easy reading but will enthrall literati and sophisticated readers of fantasy and horror.
RaveLibrary Journal\"[Yang]... effectively captures the desert in its grand eternity ... Remarkably blended, with references from Bach to Hollywood showing how Marfa fired Yang’s imagination, just as he will fire yours.\
PositiveLibrary Journal\"Elegantly delivered though these portraits may be, they aren’t just pretty pastorals ... mith capably sees deeper meaning or darker substance where rural steadiness might lull, but he’s never self-consciously showy ... Charming work for many readers.\
RaveLibrary JournalUnfold[s] in language that is just plain grittily gorgeous. These are stories of violence and passion and squashed hope ... A highly recommended debut.
PositiveLibrary Journal\"... Clark ... viscerally imparts the trauma visited on the African American body—and therefore the African American soul ... An honest, punch-angry portrait of being American while black.\
RaveLibrary JournalFine, wiry black lines with the occasional brush of green effectively echo Arendt\'s energized thinking and the tensions of a life lived in constant escape, one step ahead of the Nazis. Through it all, Arendt remains witty, even saucy. And Krimstein doesn\'t shy away from Arendt\'s complicated love for philosopher and Nazi sympathizer Martin Heidegger ... Both smart and entertaining; highly recommended and not just for graphic novels readers.
RaveLibrary Journal\"Winner of the inaugural Jake Adam York Prize, this dazzling new collection from Sotelo... seems written with opal grit. The poet highlights female subjugation to male assumptions and desires (\'I am beautiful in my harmlessness!\') but offers considerable pushback ... A moving section of this book clarifies the influences of the poet’s artist father, who teaches her the meaning of art: \'This one is art. This is what art looks like.\' She learned her lesson well.\
PositiveLibrary Journal\"All poetry aims to refresh, reframe, even revolutionize language, but in an effort to find a new and better way to discuss the trans experience, Charles goes farther than most ... This book will shape the conversation on poetry and can make other collections feel ordinary, but its challenges are best left to serious poetry lovers.\
RaveThe Library Journal\"Having captured the history of the Gulf Coast in two bloody, blazingly and baroquely brilliant sagas, award-winning author Wascom returns with an update set in 1914. Mysterious painter Isaac and rebellious heiress Kemper fall in love and find refuge in the coastal wilds, but brawly summer storms and violence both worldwide and down home (rivalries within Kemper’s brutal family boil over) wreck their happiness.\
PositiveLibrary Journal\'Everything is restored,\' says an early poem in this debut...but a creeping sense of unease upends the collection ... violence—a word that resurfaces throughout the collection ... Eerie and approachable; solid work from a rising poet.
C. Dale Young
PositiveLibrary JournalHere he turns to fiction, demonstrating the easy grace that defines his verse ... A heartfelt and well-crafted work.
RaveLibrary JournalStein follows up Rough Honey, winner of the APR/Honickman First Book Prize, with more rough love ... If Stein wants to spin \'to lose my bearings,\' she wants us to spin, too. Excellent poetry.
RaveLibrary Journal\"Written during the first 200 days of Trump’s administration, these meditations register righteous anger... But there\'s celebration, too ... \'In a second I’ll tell you how little/ Writing rescues,\' says Hayes, but his rescues a lot.\
PositiveLibrary Journal\"The poet’s picture of a fading heartland captures the despair many Americans feel today, and he parallels economic and personal desperation ... Carlson-Wee effectively uses repetition to build tension in poems that are deceptively simple and homey, and the tempered language draws readers into his heartfelt lines. Even those who don’t typically read poetry will enjoy.\
RaveLibrary Journal\"In this quiet stunner, short-listed for the Costa Book Award, Winman (When God Was a Rabbit) explores the triangular relationship connecting reserved, working-class Ellis; Michael, Ellis’s best friend since he moved to Oxford to live with his grandmother; and Annie, the woman Ellis meets while delivering a Christmas tree and eventually marries ... What’s refreshing about this work is that it’s not a standard triangle full of love and fury, smashed crockery and switching partners. Instead, as Winman threads together a poignant story comprising past and present, we see vibrant friendship and awful heartbreak bravely borne, delivered in language that’s sure, swift, and gorgeously affecting ... Winman makes the everyday remarkable; readers will want to watch this work unfold.\
RaveLibrary JournalFinally, the narrative is infused with a longing for belonging important to many in the gay community and indeed to everyone. Through the magic of his storytelling, Cassara shows us some impossible beauties and brings us all home.