RaveDatebookThere’s a risk of historical slog with memoirs involving migration and movement, tasked as they are with ferrying entire countries through the narrative like overstuffed luggage. It’s a rare work that manages to not lose its readers in a trek through myth and superstition, politics and prejudice. A Coastline Is an Immeasurable Thing...is one such gem ... Daniel is a master of place and mood. She forgoes the usual categorization of countries in favor of her own uniquely broad perspective: the inside-outsider, equipped with a poet’s unclouded ability to see ... Pockets of diaspora arise in the gregarious, joyous tenor of overlapping conversations in a room ... Coastline is gloriously fluid, willing to challenge that which might appear as a given.
RaveSan Francisco ChronicleOver eight new stories, Chai keeps a steady hand on the scrabbled emotional terrain of expats and immigrants, city and country, and, briefly, a tired, spent Earth and a wealthy \'New Shanghai\' colony on Mars. There is a familiarity about that friction, the awkward unease of the in-between. One gets the sense Chai has been mapping its edges for some time now ... Providing safe haven for one’s characters feels like an underutilized authorial power, a benevolence we’re taught to push back against in search of some greater gravitas. When Chai does it, it’s with startling confidence ... Here, characters are not defined by the crushing weight of representation, and instead of diminishing the impact or validity of these traumas, it simply robs them of their power. Chai does this again and again, elegantly yet forcefully subverting our preconceived notions as readers with each successive read. Tomorrow in Shanghai harnesses our attention, splitting it to show the shades of hope, fear, love and loss we’ve already brought to the page.
MixedThe San Francisco Chronicle... a sampling of the relentless, systematic, state-sanctioned (and often state-perpetrated) hatred and violence inflicted upon communities of color from the earliest moments of America’s conception. Good Country is primarily positioned as the memoir of a social justice lawyer, centered on Ali-Khan’s experiences as a Pakistani American born in Florida and raised in Pennsylvania, but in practice, it’s a history text with a predominantly academic tone and rigorous research that eclipses much of the personal ... Admittedly, it’s nearly unbearable to sink into a book like this right now, when its litany of old horrors looks and feels a whole lot like the new ones carried out daily. Ali-Khan favors italics to underscore the blatant nature of everyday cruelties, which can feel unnecessary and heavy-handed, but I likewise have to admit that there is a level of shock in discovering the malevolence behind a perceived mundanity that only italics can express ... The events in these pages are immense and likely triggering for many, and the attempt to trace an individual’s perspective within the maelstrom doesn’t always land. A large section late in the book devoted to the sudden rupture of Ali-Khan’s first marriage after a disturbing discovery feels somehow unrelated to the wide lens of history that precedes it.
RaveSan Francisco ChronicleFierce, lyrical ... Through Mottley’s deft maneuvering of a resolute mind in free fall, we watch, powerless, as a steady trickle of decisions usher Kiara into darkened city streets ... The story’s skeleton (the ache in its bones, the truth in its spine) is drawn from recent history ... Light reading, it is not; essential to understanding how maddeningly elusive justice can be, absolutely ... As a writer, Mottley channels the natural prose of everyday life, the way people and cities breathe and spit and shiver. It is unflinching writing, the kind that soothes even as it strikes; the darkest, most denigrating passages are reliably followed by the light.