PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewIt’s an ingenious premise: Onyebuchi suburbanizes outer space and makes battered, almost uninhabitable provincial America the frontier ... In its scale and ambition, Goliath has the feel of a Tom Wolfe novel, but there isn’t really any central action or plot that forces the different characters, up and down the class ladder, into contact and conflict with one another. The story jumps between points of view and moves backward and forward in time ... How all this hangs together matters less in the end than the picture of a broken America these stories present ... Characters with different back stories wander onstage and reveal themselves. This puts a lot of pressure on each scene to deliver meaningful revelations ... In a strange way, though, the stakes remain low, if only because there’s so little hope that their lives will ever get better ... Inevitably, tensions between the two communities reach a climax, and the result is a tragedy you don’t need to be a science-fiction writer to imagine. But the speculative machinery offers a nuance here, too.
PanTimes Literary Supplement (UK)[The] themes go some way to explaining the novel’s reception in the US, where it has been critically lauded and achieved the status of an \'NY Times bestseller\'. If you raise certain flags, a subsection of the country will salute them ... I wonder what it will be like to read this book in a hundred years. The attitude towards his reader is: you’re living it, you know what I’m talking about ... But the lack of context is a problem even in early 2022. It is never quite clear why any of these people – the former student, the movie star, the international jet-setter – has decided to show up at Senderovsky’s dacha ... We learn little about the lives they are escaping, and, apart from a few references to the dangers of the city, not much about the state of the pandemic itself. The result is that the set-up feels more like a novelist’s conceit and less like a genuine occasion. And, once he has got his characters on site, Shteyngart doesn’t really know what to do with them ... For all the drama, the book feels uneventful. There is a comic energy to the prose that doesn’t often break out into humour and instead creates a kind of low-gravity zone for the characters to operate in. None of their actions carries real weight ... You get the sense that Shteyngart keeps having to make up stuff for his characters to talk about because they don’t have enough depth to their lives to keep a conversation going ... Perhaps strangest of all about this novel is the way Shteyngart seems to lose interest in his own alter ego. Senderovsky, who initiates the whole retreat, plays less and less of a role as the plot wears on. All of this is first-draft stuff, signs of the haste in which the book was presumably dashed off and then published. Shteyngart can certainly write, and there are many great lines, sharp insights, both funny and serious, which deserve a better book to live in.