MixedYorkshire Daily Times (UK)\"The text is engaging, but there is little in the protagonist to draw sympathy, nor prompt any other emotion other than perhaps pathos ... it is a slow journey, with questions left unanswered—the narrative progresses with the same hesitancy that [characters] forming the bonds experience ... I confess to being baffled by the novel, not really sure of my opinion when I turned the final page. I understand the themes and the commentary it passes. I recognise that politics (and largely, religion) is left aside to focus instead on human character and connection and I am aware that reviews have praised it for being a new take on the British love affair with a romanticised notion of India. However, for me, there was something lacking ... I found elements of the story unconvincing whilst yet recognising that this may be misperception in the context of an India ill-judged through Western eyes ... the pace, whilst languid and dreamlike in its slow progression and therefore conforming thematically, was simply too slow in parts, and the plot too predictable. The denouement was rushed ... books are a subjective choice and unfortunately, this one simply wasn’t, on balance, for me.
Sayaka Murata, tr. Ginny Tapley Takemori
RaveThe Yorkshire Times (UK)... on finishing Sayaka Murata\'s novel, Earthlings , I was left quite speechless. It is the kind of book that needs you to pause, take a step back and then decide upon a response ... the themes it deals with are largely dark, some clearly exaggerated for the purposes of fiction, but nonetheless relevant to the modern world. However, the approach does keep a distinct gap between reality and fiction, so the reader may observe, but in the manner of a cinemagoer: thankfully, this alternate reality is sufficiently strange to prevent the reader from full immersion into its peculiar horror ... The childlike prose persists with Natsuki as an adult, adding to the sense of detachment, but also masking the more chilling undertones of the narrative.
RaveThe Yorkshire Times (UK)Stranger in the Shogun\'s City, a story of Tsuneno, a woman who defied convention to forge her own path through life in nineteenth century Japan, is penned with the precision and dexterity of a Japanese calligrapher; the result is engaging, impactful and insightful ... The stage is set, with the background neatly laid out in a manner that remains consistent throughout the book: historical context is provided succinctly, each scene is illuminated adroitly, the language never superfluous ... Stanley steps back, allowing Tsuneno to take centre stage. However, in parts she acts as a narrator - there are gaps in the story that require informed supposition. But this is clear; we know when the plot diverts from its evidence-based trajectory. We have faith in the knowledge of the narrator – she, more than most, would know ... The book is classified as historical biography, but it does not read like a work of non-fiction. From the childhood home adjoining the temple in the remote provinces, to the dingy tenements of Edo where she later resides, we travel with Tsuneno, share her experiences; the sights, sounds and smells are all rendered familiar.