RaveThe Financial Times (UK)Trust, Starnone’s latest book, beautifully translated again by Lahiri, sets out to keep this singularity at its heart while enriching the narrative with a larger cast of characters and a deeper investigation of preoccupations familiar from his previous works: the rewards and sacrifices of a monogamous life, the risks of self-fashioning, what it means to teach and be taught, the precipitousness of looking back on one’s life ... [Starnone] too portrays unflinchingly the violence, physical and verbal, that can erupt within the closest relationships. His plots also twist, turn and drop (Lahiri astutely compares his writing to a rollercoaster). And he too can close his chapters with the kind of high-drama flourish comparable — in the best way — to a soap opera ... This precise, cinematic control of time and perspective gives an impressive sense of grandness to such brief novels, and brings with it the aching poignancy of hindsight.
MixedFinancial Times (UK)\"... 14 witty, provocative, but often passé essays ... Is Ellmann serious? I think so, but her cunning is to keep her reader guessing at whether she genuinely believes what she writes ... As a polemic against the patriarchy, Ellmann’s collection has coherence, but individually, the essays veer from the incisive to outdated ... Many of the ideas in this collection are also present in Ellmann’s fiction, and in several cases fiction is an infinitely better vehicle for them. What feels extreme in the cold, hard prose of non-fiction feels meaningful in the context of a story ... It’s in the titular—previously unpublished—essay that Ellmann reminds the reader what she’s capable of doing with language ... But as the refrain builds into something bigger and more powerful, the essay gives credence to the suggestion that Ellmann is one of the few writers producing modernist work for the contemporary moment.
PositiveFinancial Times (UK)... darkly funny ... thoroughly researched ... Katharina is opinionated, drily funny, and completely charming .. A less interesting novel might succumb too heavily to the anachronistic notion that witches were proto-feminists. But Galchen navigates the territory well, probing at ideas around accusation and the long history of disbelieving women. Her prose, which recalls Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, is light, pared back and subtly archaic. Moments where she nods at the contemporary obsession with witchcraft are funny rather than sincere ... It’s this dry humour that makes the novel sparkle ... As the narrative comes to a close, however, and we want to focus on Katharina and her fate, the interviews, letters and perspectives of other characters draw away from the tension of the novel, sometimes out of a duty to recount the stories of the real people involved. It’s Katharina’s voice that enchants, and it’s lost in the cacophony of characters. Galchen’s evocation of Katharina is so vivid, and has such verve, that she transcends her figure, and becomes a character. But in the end, she’s lost in the recounting of her own history.
Lina Wolff, trans. By Saskia Vogel
RaveFinancial TimesWhat we do when nobody’s watching and the things that go unsaid in the minds of men and women — these are the obsessions pulsing through Many People Die Like You, a newly translated collection of witty, acerbic short stories by Swedish writer Lina Wolff ... Wolff’s clever and sardonic stories — in a slick translation by Saskia Vogel — expose our cruelest thought processes, exploring the often savage consequences for both men and women of life under the patriarchy ... The stories are brilliantly unsettling, always building towards a melodramatic climax — a rhythm that recalls the stories of Miranda July and Samanta Schweblin.
Deb Olin Unferth
MixedFinancial Times (UK)It...is full of grit, humour and tenderness. But...this novel suffers from a lack of narrative thrust ... A motley crew of activists ... The chickens themselves become, joyously, a kind of character en masse ... Victim to this impressive chorus is tension. Barn 8 is a story about the beauty of life taking an unexpected turn, and about how, in caring for an animal, we can improve our own lot. But the heist? Not as interesting as what goes on inside the head of a young activist—or a chicken, as it turns out.
PositiveThe Financial TimesIn this debut collection of short stories, Alexia Arthurs asks what immigrants hold on to, let go of or reject from their familial lands ... In this exploration of Jamaica and its diaspora, Arthurs masterfully teases out the joys and sorrows of cultural bifurcation. The result is a symphony of voices for the age of globalization.