PositiveBooklistAn enigmatic work that serves as a fitting coda to a long and productive career, even as it emphatically resists anything resembling resolution or conclusion ... There’s \'always another thought to be spoken or written and we can’t go on but I do,\' declares Ferlinghetti. And that may be the point of this dissonant, bewildering, intermittently beautiful book: the end can be kept at bay so long as one can keep pushing out whirlwinds of words.
PositiveBooklist\"... [a] dark rumination on domestic violence ... Such subplots seem designed to crank up the dramatic tension by underscoring the extent to which Cole’s present and his future depend on his ability to find peace with his past. But the most affecting scenes may be the quieter moments in which Cole discovers intimacies—sharing a meal, helping with a shower—with his decaying monster of a father.\
MixedBooklist[A] comic meditation on technology, authenticity, and end-times anxiety ... lots of characters and a jumbly plot make for a clamorous read. But Lipsyte also offers high-velocity moments in which bleakness and humor, the quotidian and the apocalyptic all gloriously converge.
Dror Burstein, Trans. by Gabriel Levin
PositiveBooklistBurstein manages to wrest Pynchonian satire from biblical eschatology, and his narrative is frequently funny and sometimes opaque. The prevailing sentiment, as Jeremiah’s warnings go unheeded by his fellow light-rail commuters, is an all-too-familiar sense of anxiety about an uncertain future.
PositiveBooklistLeading political theorist Fukuyama...suggests that liberal democracy is in global crisis because of knotty, interrelated problems having to do with thymos, the human desire for dignity and respect ... The solution, suggests Fukuyama, is not rejection of identity politics, but rather a reinvigorated \'creedal\' identity—in which national identity is tied to shared values as opposed to race, ethnicity, or religion—so that thymos is channeled into constructive ends, like civic engagement. Keenly thought-provoking and timely.
PositiveBooklist OnlineA teenager creates a glossary to chronicle his adventures and catalogue his many losses in Reed’s dark yet uplifting debut novel. With his mother dead and his father vanished, young William ends up in the custody of an unreliable uncle and spends his days exploring the woods ... In framing William’s world as a lexicon, Reed allows readers only brief, brutal glimpses at William’s pain, nicely balanced with ample humor. But this novel’s true joy may be the wonder it radiates about a world as beautiful as it is cruel.
Sjón, Trans. by Victoria Cribb
PositiveBooklist\"A firm believer in making readers work for their reward, Sjón offers an amalgam of creation myth, surrealist absurdity, ancient saga, and contemporary satire that is frequently bewildering. Dedicated readers and Icelandophiles may discover profundity within, and delight can also be found in Sjón’s poetic language.\
David A. Kaplan
PositiveBooklistIn his penetrating if anxious analysis of Supreme Court jurisprudence, Kaplan laments recent decisions lacking \'judicial restraint\' and pleads for narrow exercise of the court’s power despite public pressure and ample temptation to rule broadly on controversial matters ... The result is assertive judicial decision-making that aspires to, in Chief Justice John Roberts’ words, \'protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.\' And if this isn’t an entirely new argument, it is certainly a timely one.
PositiveBooklistBoyd’s fresh and instructive look at 1930s Germany as described in contemporaneous travel narratives reveals a tourist destination that continued to attract visitors even as the true intentions of the Nazis became obvious ... Boyd has some sympathy for visitors who, unsure what to make of a bewildering mix of prosperity and propaganda, initially gave Hitler the benefit of the doubt. But she remains shocked that bold signs of Nazi evil were so frequently ignored.
RaveBooklist\"The product of his efforts is more deeply researched and engagingly narrated than nearly all of the looming stack of books on Osama bin Laden and his cohorts published in the past five years ... Wright seems to have found his calling: a perceptive and intense page-turner, this selection and Peter Bergen’s The Osama bin Laden I Know (2006) should be considered the definitive works on the topic.\
PositiveBooklistModernist architecture and the properties of water inform this poetic tale ... In her first novel, distinguished poet Kilalea describes Mr. Field’s emotions in a devastatingly evocative fashion.
PositiveBooklist Online\"Strangeness, wordplay, and loss saturate Wheeler’s debut essay collection, launched from southern New Mexico but aimed at the creaky mythology of American progress ... Wheeler visits a UFO festival, investigates the final days of a condemned criminal, and discovers a utopian asylum. Wheeler also introduces us to his family: proud, decadent, dying. If his hallucinogenic prose sometimes resembles the great twentieth-century gonzos, so does his moral outrage and his yearning for authenticity.\
Sergio De La Pava
RaveBooklist Online\"As with the author’s debut novel, A Naked Singularity (2012), the New York City criminal-justice system figures prominently, its jargon and bureaucratic instruments providing realist texture, while its absurdities and cruelties fuel the fury that is this novel’s molten core. Again we witness de la Pava’s gleaming wit, philosophical benders and pop-culture fixations, and the sheer intensity with which he hurls his words in this even more assured work of incandescent literary maximalism. And the underdog triumphs again.\
Robert D. Kaplan
RaveBooklistHis bleak but lucid core thesis is that the power dynamics of the future may look less like those of the Eurocentric twentieth century and more like those of the distant past ... An astute, powerfully stated, and bracing presentation.
RaveBooklistMerriman digests memoirs and newspaper archives to create a comprehensive, blow-by-blow account. But his true concern is the correlation between economic hopelessness and political violence ... The result is a lively, erudite work that, without romanticizing the Bonnot gang’s crimes, manages to humanize those in their milieu, and perhaps suggest lessons for the present.
RaveBooklistApplebaum deftly parses decades of politicized reportage and deliberate obfuscation to show how seemingly distinct aspects of Stalinism were deployed to suppress an independent Ukraine. Applebaum adds important context and compelling insights to WWII history and more recent regional conflicts. Highly recommended.
Jenny Erpenbeck, Trans. by Susan Bernofsky
RaveBooklist\"A nuanced depiction of people who have largely given up the luxury of hope and have little to do but wait. Erpenbeck bluntly reminds readers what is at stake for Germany and, by extension, the world. A timely, informed, and moving novel of political fury.\
Orhan Pamuk, Trans. by Ekin Oklap
RaveBooklistPamuk masterfully contrasts East with West, tradition with modernity, the power of fables with the inevitability of realism. Can we have our myths but be spared their consequences? As usual, Pamuk handles weighty material deftly, and the result is both puzzling and beautiful.
RaveBooklistTo the extent that these are all stories about dreams colliding with reality, it’s tempting to see parallels with Western millennials caught between their ideals and the crush of the marketplace. But such similarities disappear when Beijing-based journalist Ash turns to politics, noting the subtle ways in which Chinese youth now signal resistance. The result is a perceptive and quietly profound book that leaves open the possibility that personal disillusionment may one day lead to political change.