PositiveThe Nation\"The barrage of trauma in Heavy is unrelenting: Laymon has to witness and survive countless incidents of violence and abuse—above all, the toxic vapors of white supremacy, which permeate the events in the book like mustard gas does a battlefield ... Heavy is a dark book, and the trauma that Laymon orbits is almost like a black hole...\
RaveThe New RepublicZhang’s writing strips away the layers between reader and experience; her gaze is unflinching, and she never cuts away when things become uncomfortable or grotesque. The effect is something like watching a wound scar in reverse. It seems to say: This is the site of trauma. I might heal, but I’ll never be the same ... Humiliating, brutal, funny, visceral, and truthful ... Stories matter because every immigrant story is a tale of lucky breaks and narrow escapes. Only in the softer, sepia-toned light of revised history do these stories look like individual cunning and derring-do. Sour Heart is brilliant because it runs headlong into this thicket of contradiction and comes out unscathed. Zhang’s gift is to meld the tender and grotesque—the raw materials of a life—into stories that teach us how to treat each other.
RaveThe New RepublicCoates’s knives are deadly, and they strip away the fat from truths passingly familiar to many but lived by only a few. It is an indictment ... Between the World and Me is a letter, but it is a twinned chronicle: It is the story of how Coates woke up to America, and it is also the story of passing his hard-won consciousness, as another student of history, down to his legacy, his only child ... Its power is in the details, in the way it grants its reader the power to see black Americans as fully realized, as fully human. And in this, Coates finds his way into the universal.
Michael W. Clune
PositiveNew RepublicGamelife is a spectacular accomplishment. It’s written in a kind of yearning voice that defies easy classification as simple nostalgia; it reanimates the old discs and cartridges convincingly, without cloying.