RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleDeep-feeling, beautifully bruised ... A darkly comic and heartrendingly earnest work. Even as it sometimes imperfectly weaves together its grand sentiments — addiction and recovery, grief and hope, love, belonging and meaning — it’s hard to be bothered by the bumps in the road when one can sit with the playful, wistful emotional resonance of Akbar’s prose ... A poet\'s novel.
MixedThe San Francisco ChronicleStill feels relevant, promising to offer a new kind of access to such a storied life and career. Yet readers won’t get an ounce of speculation or new evidence around one of the great unresolved mysteries in modern entertainment history. This comes likely out of respect for Shakur, a natural facet of a work that is being overseen by his estate. The book wants to focus on and celebrate Shakur’s life as it was lived, not revel in the sensationalized theories around his death ... Straightforward, somewhat sedate ... In other words, readers looking for new insights into an artist whose life has already been endlessly picked apart will likely not find any here. What the book offers instead is a recounting that is comprehensive mostly in the breadth of its summary.
PositiveSan Francisco Chronicle... amid an entirely new landscape, [Richner\'s candid look at money] makes her book perhaps even more uncomfortable, but all the more necessary during what has been an economically devastating year for many Americans ... much of the book revolves around Risher’s largely quotidian anxieties as she struggles to come to terms with her growing riches. Breaking the silence around money, big and small, she says, can help build a more equitable country.
RaveThe San Francisco... bold, moving ... In the typical rubric of the immigrant narrative, [Jin] notes, \'the immigrant doesn’t fully exist until the moment of arrival.\' This reality — the excising of the \'first self,\' which Little Gods deliberately spotlights with heartbreaking clarity, or a superficial flattening of the full life before — is one that tends to underpin our perceptions of immigrant households and perhaps every corner of San Francisco’s prominent yet insular Chinese community. And yet, within these enclaves themselves, the complicated truths of migration are things that can at least be implicitly understood together ... It is simply the existence and interrogation of the hidden life, this immigrant tale turned inside out, that gives the novel its profound power.
PositiveThe San Francisco ChronicleLike his book, Perry is not presenting a position. His essays are most satisfying for their largely meandering nature, the abstention from a resolution. Most pieces end on quiet, melancholic notes, without a way out. That feeling of being lost, he says, will hopefully make others feel less alone.
PositiveThe San Francisco ChronicleIf the novel is not exactly cynical about either, it’s certainly a look askance at it all — marriage, San Francisco and perhaps what it feels like to live in 2019 ... The wealth disparity is starkly illustrated in the nature of the schemes everyone is hatching — the desperation of those straining to survive and the uninhibited greed of those at the top ... neither a shining endorsement nor an indictment, but simply an acknowledgment of what Handler refers to as the bewildering nature of life. But, like the book’s early inspirations, it’s hard not to feel like it can also be extrapolated to a perpetually shape-shifting city.
Xuan Juliana Wang
RaveSan Francisco Chronicle...vivid snippets of memory, shrouded in emotional complexity. This sense of the ineffable, but achingly tender, courses throughout Wang’s deeply felt debut short story collection ... In Wang’s stories, the disorientation of migration and movement manifests at once loudly and quietly in the lives of a sundry collection of Chinese characters, from violent, wealthy misfit Millennials to accidental fashion stars ... Wang forgoes the typical contours of \'immigrant\' perspectives — her stories are less about classical immigrant hardship or overt trauma. Instead, they often claw wistfully at feelings of profound alienation ... Her writing does not feel political, either. Its cultural specificity is driven by something more personal...and also perhaps primal and instinctual ... Wang’s writing began with those whose experience of dislocation is unexpressed in literature ... In Home Remedies her lens remains focused on these individuals, though their lives are translated less as part of the “immigrant experience” than foremost as deeply, universally human.
Mitchell S. Jackson
PositiveSan Francisco Chronicle\"... powerful ... a vulnerable, sobering look at Jackson’s life and beyond, with all its tragedies, burdens and faults ... [Jackson\'s] explorations feel strikingly unguarded.\
PositiveSan Francisco Chronicle\"Here, Roupenian weaves a dozen compulsively readable stories of characters filled with perverse desires and motivations ... The stories are delightfully absorbing in their twisted cores ... There are moments, though, that tap into a kind of commentary that is clear and also feels new...\
RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleNot so much a direct indictment of the tech industry or other forces that have reshaped San Francisco as a conflicted and complex portrait of a city starving for solutions ... essential.
PositiveThe San Francisco ChronicleShort vignettes of her life...make up a sort of loosely connected collage of her grief. But in Caspers’ telling, this mourning is chronicled less as an explicit analysis of what is lost, and instead as quietly affecting scenes of a strange, painful and unusually beautiful version of the world that has opened as a result. The afternoon sun appears to shine in the middle of the night; a mysterious shadow of a dog plays companion; in her apartment over an alley she meets comforting strangers who seem almost like imagined characters.
PositiveSan Francisco ChronicleLike Bhuvaneswar, the identities of her characters deviate from the traditional figures we often see in celebrated American fiction ... impressively varied ... The pieces possess a dynamic range ... Bhuvaneswar is sure-handed as her stories toggle boldly between form. She is as deft at building tension...as she is at building a sort of hypnotic world.
PositiveThe San Francisco ChronicleIn Stein’s new collection, Terrible Blooms, poems brim with oblique renderings of the unsettling. Dark and violent memories sprout up; grief pervades; animals often turn up dead or in the process. There is a pall of the terrible cast over the work ... Another word might be survival, not only through the terrible, but also for the life that exists beyond.
Michael David Lukas
PositiveThe East Bay ExpressLukas\' warmly affecting sophomore work largely examines what happens to all that life, its memories and stories, when the people experiencing it are gone ... This time around, Lukas more overtly bucks preconceptions within his tale of Muslim-Jewish relationships, ultimately creating a more thematically focused second novel ... Novels like Lukas\' can believe in the potential of another version of the world, whether we call it possible or magical or both.