MixedThe London Review of BooksThomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century is an intelligent, ambitious and above all informative treatment of the problem. This accounts for much of the unusual excitement surrounding a lengthy, often dry economic tract. But there’s something else to the ‘Piketty bubble’: he is one of the very few contemporary economists eager to revive the old-fashioned spirit of political economy ...[a] lengthy, thorough and generally lucid book ... A clear and sometimes sarcastically witty writer...Piketty is both presenting scholarly findings before colleagues and urging political reform on an educated public ... nothing about the book is more impressive than the range and richness of its statistical information ... The book is more exciting considered as a failure than as a triumph. Piketty has bid a lingering goodbye to the latter-day marginalism of mainstream economics but has not yet arrived at the reconstructed political economy foreseen at the outset. His theoretical reach fumbles where his statistical grasp is sure, and he leaves intact the questions of economic value, distributive justice and capitalist dynamics that he raises.
Roberto Bolaño, Trans. by Natasha Wimmer
RaveLondon Review of BooksThis flat and lurid story is like an account that anyone might give of an acquaintance’s fate ... It’s something close to a miracle that Bolaño can produce such intense narrative interest in a book made up of centrifugal monologues spinning away from two absentee main characters, and the diary entries of its most peripheral figure. And yet, in spite of the book’s apparent (and often real) formlessness, a large part of its distinction is its virtually unprecedented achievement in multiply-voiced narration ... True, the reader is liable to protest, somewhere before page 200, that this book isn’t about anything. Later on, it’s possible to recognize, with admiration, that Bolaño has found a way to keep the novel alive and freshly growing in the Sonora of modern skepticism—our skepticism, that is, as to what can finally be known or said of any life, and whose life is worth being represented, or considered representative, in the first place.
PositiveThe New RepublicPart of the value of Eisner’s biography is to situate a lastingly familiar and accessible body of work in its author’s exceptional experience of an irrecoverable recent past ... The decades since Neruda’s death in 1973...have seen the rout of international socialism as well as a radical shrinkage in the audience, or market share, for poetry. Neruda the earth’s universal poet hails from another planet ... \'Sube a nacer conmigo, hermano\' is probably the most famous line of the poem [\'The Heights of Macchu Picchu\']: \'Rise to be born with me, brother.\' History presents a choice, Neruda says, between dying alone each day or being born at last with our brethren. If the notion is embarrassing today, this does not seem entirely to our credit.
PositiveLondon Review of BooksThis compact novel, in which an emotionally buttoned-down new arrival recounts the downfall of another recent transplant who is, by contrast with him, an extravagant dreamer, has won admiring comparisons to that most American of novels, The Great Gatsby ... In Netherland, narrator and author appear to have the identical prospect before their mind’s eye, but their mind’s eyesight, as it were, remains obstinately farsighted, so that distant but well-defined figures...appear stamped against an indistinct middle ground dominated by the vaguely looming, obscurely perceived shapes of Hans’s work and family ... Without question, Netherland is the product of real intelligence and design, and an unusually well-written book at that, even if the prose shows more belletristic expertise than it does the features of a true individual style.
PositiveThe Los Angeles TimesLethem has fused his exact and melancholy sociology with the remembered life of a street and has testified, in a proof of Baldwin's hypothesis, to how intimately we experience not only family and friends and sex and drugs but also political and cultural landslides … Style and genre remain crucial to Lethem's sense of things, and the novelty and power of the book have something to do with his effort to look at the subjects of style and race together. By far the longest of Lethem's books, The Fortress of Solitude is essentially a double album … The Fortress of Solitude is what lots of contemporary novels mean to be and few are: both intimate and vast, giving us social and private realities without seeming to falsify either.