MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewNight. Sleep. Death. The Stars. is the latest installment in Oates’s uneven examination of cultural identity in America, arriving as protests over the killing of George Floyd have erupted in cities across America ... Oates is at her best—and make no mistake, her best can be spellbinding and heart-wrenching—when she inhabits Jessalyn ... a disquieting novel ... For a variety of reasons—the considerable length, or what Oates herself has called her \'dismaying proliferousness,\' or, most unfairly, the fate of being published in the age of Covid-19—readers may resist this book. Still, it is squarely in conversation with this moment ... [her indictments are] too forgiving. The problem isn’t an inability to imagine, but a patent and systemic refusal. Such failure is willful, and if we tolerate its myriad manifestations—apathy, privilege, ignorance—we’re as complicit as the McClarens.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewBy putting the readers in the same position as Michael’s family members, Haslett has pulled off something of a brilliant trick: We feel precisely what they feel — the frustration, the protectiveness, the hope and fear and, yes, the obligation...But make no mistake, the novel’s most rewarding surprise is its heart. Again and again, the characters subtly assert that despite the expense of empathy and the predictable disappointment of love, our tendency to care for one another is warranted. Whether it’s a choice or a learned behavior or a genetic imperative of the species, our constant slouching toward compassion is a lucky obligation. Even when confusing or crazy-making, it’s the higher calling of our blood. It’s a responsibility, a relief.