RaveThe Guardian (UK)So begins a page-turning adventure story that’s also a profound meditation on solitude and companionship, foreignness and home; a bildungsroman in the grand 19th-century tradition that is also a fierce critique of the romanticised myths of the settlement of the American west ... It’s a thrilling narrative, full of twists and turns, that sees Håkan make the journey from young boy to \'stupendously tall man\'; and from innocence to experience – David Copperfield with a twist of Tarantino and Deadwood perhaps, or Great Expectations shot through with a dose of True Grit and Blood Meridian ... And yet that’s not quite a fair description. What Diaz pulls off here is that rare feat of drawing on literary and filmic traditions, only to conjure something completely fresh and strange. In the Distance is a brutal, sad, tender coming-of-age story, set in a historical past that feels both familiar and at the same time like nothing we’ve ever encountered before ... a singular and deeply affecting portrait of one man’s life in a rapidly changing world, unlike any old-school or revisionist western I’ve experienced.
MixedThe GuardianOn the surface Love Is Blind has all the hallmarks of a slow-burning thriller—the event-packed story of a single decade in Brodie’s life ... William Boyd’s layered and intricate novel begins close to its end point, with a brief prologue in the form of a 1906 letter from a British penal colony in the Bay of Bengal. In it, an American anthropologist called Page Arbogast tells her sister, Amelia, about the recent arrival of a new assistant, \'a tall young Scotsman, about thirty-five years old, called Brodie Moncur\'. Exactly what Brodie is doing there is a mystery that will remain unresolved for almost the entire book ... There are moments when the plot feels overwrought and doesn’t quite convince; Malachi’s psychology, for example, is too glibly explained, and the last few lines are unnecessary and overly neat. Nevertheless, Boyd’s drama builds powerfully towards its ending, when at last Brodie arrives in the Bay of Bengal, and where he unwittingly mouths (in German) some of Chekhov’s own words. In its poignant closing scenes, the book balances the sad and ordinary randomness of life—its bathos even—with a kind of transcendence born out of Brodie’s longing. It’s a finely judged performance: a deft and resonant alchemy of fact and fiction, of literary myth and imagination.