RaveThe Guardian (UK)... an immersive and satisfying coming of age novel with an extraordinary central character ... Sindu’s language is simple and clear, her skills as a storyteller so subtle that only halfway through the novel did I notice her differing ways with emotional effect, the nostalgic depictions of Kalki’s memories of early boyhood contrasting with his empty, hustling life in New York. The author cleverly reveals the toxic sham of Kalki’s boyhood, yet without tainting the genuine romance, richness and simplicity of his daily life ... a rich, beautifully told and moving examination of the allure of superstition and legend, the pains of growing up and the pitfalls of lying to others and lying to yourself.
Choi Eunyoung, Tr. Sung Ryu
RaveThe Observer (UK)Each is written with sober detail, filmic precision and absolute control. Everything, from the three-decade occupation of Korea by Japan to the consequences of the Vietnam war, is explored with the lightest of touches and without losing sight of the central characters’ motivations and personalities ... an incredibly impressive collection told with realism, seriousness and moral integrity. The stories are painful and complex but never depressing. They show what it’s like to be an ordinary person with a painful past and an unknowable future, living out the years in the cold light of day.
PositiveThe Guardian (UK)Malik’s new book stares into the heart of our current seething political volcano and gives it a cool hosing down ... Malik takes each claim, peels back its fallacies and exposes its roots ... With careful analysis and a great historian’s expertise for synthesising a huge amount of information into a clear arc, she engages in a powerful and persuasive debunking exercise ... Malik steers refreshingly clear of journalese and the book resembles a solid work of social science or political philosophy more than a common grab bag of extended articles. She has an excellent nose for hypocrisy and doublethink, the crude prejudices and bigotry that underlie political decisions ... At the same time, I felt two further books were trying to emerge or, rather, revealed their stubs within the manuscript. The first is a memoir of Malik’s personal and political awakening as a gifted, driven woman born in Sudan, growing up in Kenya, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and later coming to London, where she worked in finance for a decade before switching to journalism ... This is not to undercut her engagement with the political assumptions she deconstructs so exhaustively in this book. But the personal foreword has a lightness, insight, depth, global perspective and power all of its own. The second is a work of American history, from Bush Sr onwards. The passages reflecting on this, looking at US foreign and domestic policy and examining the lead-up to Trump’s election as 45th president are brilliant, informative and thought-provoking, condensing many strands and a lot of research into beautifully palatable sections ... Given the political dramas that are no doubt to come this autumn, I fear Malik’s breaking down of prevailing beliefs may get lost, no matter how pertinent her warnings.
RaveThe Guardian (UK)... an extraordinary confection. Avni Doshi’s debut novel has been shortlisted for the 2020 Booker prize and is an elegantly written family story that sizzles with hatred and is impossible to put down. Sleek and contemporary, it is set in the Indian city of Pune and narrated by an artist, Antara, who watches and crows while her mother’s dominating personality gives way to dementia and decline ... Crisply written, Burnt Sugar is a thrilling ride into hell, where ordinary scenes have a nightmarish quality ... This is not a miserable book, though, but a painfully exhilarating one. Misery is inert and deadening; this novel is alive with pain, fear and insults ... it retains throughout a stylistic freshness. This is an exquisitely written novel at a formal level, highly observant and patterned with fresh details, where even sashimi at a Japanese restaurant \'lies on the plate like a submissive tongue\'. So come for the effortlessly stylish writing, stay for the boiling wrath.
RaveThe Guardian (UK)For the historical lead-in, Goodings maintains a careful, stately tone, like the voiceover in a prestigious BBC period drama about ladies: The House of Elliot, but for books. The story is one of artistry, ambition, activism and a fierce desire to marry the three ... A Bite of the Apple is about the women who did this work from the 1970s onwards, a time of huge activism around race, class and sex ... The book snaps into wit and colour when she reflects on her experiences as a dedicated and worldly editor. She is great at acute, observant character snapshots ... At the core of this book is a curiously Victorian message about the value of sincerity and of acting in good faith ... As a cultural history, A Bite of the Apple is clear. As a reminder of female artists’ ongoing fight for space and respect, it’s necessary. As a riff on writers and writing, it’s essential.
C Pam Zhang
RaveThe Guardian (UK)Sure to be the boldest debut of the year ... C Pam Zhang grapples with the legend of the wild west and mines brilliant new gems from a well-worn setting ... The story is heavy with layers of trauma ... On the one hand, the novel is in close touch with the entire tradition of wild west mythology and film and many of its surface details and set dressing are highly familiar ... At the same time, the story feels completely original, flushed through with new and unexpected perspectives. Through Zhang’s deep attention, the classic western is given a rich new shading as race, gender, sexual identity, poverty and pubescence come into play. The novel is thick with detail, metaphor and oblique allusion ... at its core is a chilling sense of the utter loneliness and isolation felt by Lucy and Sam.
RaveThe Guardian (UK)Small Days and Nights starts off with a simple premise that becomes a shattering study of disaffection and belonging ... a concise novel of staggering depth ... there is incredible physical and emotional violence. In its vivid setting, the novel is not exactly a paean to modern India so much as a piercing Munchian howl of grief ... Each page of this novel bears testament to [Doshi\'s] skills as inequality, secrecy and unhappiness harden into menace. Through a cycle of visits, returns and memories, [Grace] must weather huge unease and bruising conflicts. Eventually, she finds strength and acceptance in this disturbing, deep and utterly extraordinary novel.
RaveThe Guardian (UK)... a fast, fizzy read ... Thomas is satirically attuned to the intricate frustration of teen life, the ignoble obsessions of puerile minds and the speed at which hygiene, decorum and false pretences vanish in a single-sex boarding institution. This makes for an entertaining, irreverent and wrong-hilarious read ... The novel is full of brilliant lines and I’m deliberately not quoting the best ones, to save them for buying readers ... [Thomas] is on a red-hot streak of invention right now and these narratives succeed because of the novelist’s deep understanding of the cracks and quirks of such communities ... When Thomas slows down for a moment I am reminded how excellent her dialogue is ... Despite the occasional spangles of darkness, this is hugely enjoyable. It’s about as menacing as a cool girl’s black glitter nail polish – and just as much fun.
RaveThe GuardianDespite the stately presentation and the fact that some of the essays first appeared 20 years ago, these studies are trenchant, still relevant and frequently alarming. Roy reveals some hard truths about modern India and makes powerful analytical forays into American and British foreign policy, aid, imperialism and attitudes ... These essays are much denser than her prose fiction, although not rebarbatively so. Rather, they are thick with intelligence and firmly bolstered with fact. To Roy’s exacting eye, everything in the world is complicated, contradictory, contingent—even resistance and freedom-fighting ... their impact comes from their precision, research and damningly clear reportage.