RaveThe National Book ReviewThe telling is couched in a gentlemanly language of detailed recollection. Its personalized claim on slavery’s annals summons up interesting company. Its associations radiate intellectual and social concerns of a time swept up in the study of nature, the inquiries of science, the urge toward exploration, and the fray of politics. The tensions of class reverberate, as do the meaning of family, the vitality of art, the pressure points of love, and the mystery of the self ... Some of Edugyan’s best writing surfaces in Wash’s exhilaration at seeing nature up close, and his triumphantly revealing its stunning realities ... Her words light a fire under arresting experiences and cloud-clearing ascensions to new heights ... When obliteration tries to leave its calling card questions always arise about whether to intervene in prevailing decisions about posterity’s contents. Washington Black gives life to such choices, siding with better judgments, and contributing a moving chronicle.
R O Kwon
RaveThe National Book ReviewIn The Incendiaries, illusion and its stepsibling, deceit, carry out bombardments on the novel’s characters courtesy of others and the self. Delusions get picked off only to have new ones take their place, amplifying the notion that Kwon is scattering clues to a conclusion that has the unknowable up its sleeve. Rather than frustrating, this makes The Incendiaries more captivating, a school where no one ever graduates, continually caught up in the question of what really happens, body and soul. R.O. Kwon excels at the function of making the invisible visible, and delivers signs from on high—that is, where a gifted new writer is performing at a lofty level.
R O Kwon
RaveThe National Book ReviewThere’s taking, there’s giving, there are disappearing spaces halfway as Kwon generates waves to ride toward revelation, catastrophe and reinvention. The Incendiaries is written as though language is also a religion. Kwon worships well ... short, succinctly lovely sentences and her willowy eschewing of transitions, between the secular and the sacred. Her balletic writing pirouettes on a period, placing beginnings in their ends, and opposing reckonings into trenchant echo chambers ... Delusions get picked off only to have new ones take their place, amplifying the notion that Kwon is scattering clues to a conclusion that has the unknowable up its sleeve. Rather than frustrating, this makes The Incendiaries more captivating, a school where no one ever graduates, continually caught up in the question of what really happens, body and soul. R.O. Kwon excels at the function of making the invisible visible, and delivers signs from on high—that is, where a gifted new writer is performing at a lofty level.
RaveNPRMakkai’s writing isn’t the kind that calls attention to itself, allowing the people, emotions, personal incidents and public occurrences of her book to take shape with the force of urgency and the authentic, the grievousness of deceit—by lovers, by families, by hope—and the generosity of romance, sorrow, growth and wonder. She unleashes a mathematics as compelling as her attention to the contradictions within personalities ... She packs her deft array of characters full of surprises that can burst into narrative drama or show their hands gradually in self-revelation, and reconciliation. There is no question that love, no matter how messy or maligned, holds its own, even longer than the plenitude of angers Makkai painfully details and ignites.
RaveThe National Book ReviewTo lever his subjects into his harsh but mostly forgiving light, Orange leads somberly refulgent search parties of prose into every corner of the particular, Native American geography he has mapped of Oakland, with varied places, identities and epochs conspiring to inhabit its unfriendly earth, its perpetuation of drugs and drinking, its collusion with family fracturing and dysfunction, reaching back to an invading force’s first dissembling schemes for assimilation. It transforms such city signposts as Fruitvale and San Leandro Boulevard —and a fizzled occupation of Alcatraz—into well-worn topographical stops of sadness, anger, stubborn ceremony and wary joy. In spaces—actual and psychic—constructed to negate it, heroism is felt in the quick flashes Orange allows ... He exercises at least three narrative genres: history, fiction, and a filmic unspooling ... fiction of the highest order, landing it on the shores of a world that should be abashed it was unaware it had been awaiting his arrival.
RaveThe Chicago Tribune...Chang-Rae Lee, the award-winning Korean-American novelist, has decided that the war and its human events are ready for their closeup, delivering a sweeping novel in which connected lives also link mass atrocities seemingly unrelated and far apart ... As ravingly as The Surrendered portrays the deaths, often under torture, of countless war victims –– many of them victors only in name –– Lee also times its sequences to a single, slow, highly particularized dying ... The sign posts in his story, though, point all roads not to Rome but Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, and his re-visiting of military and political history becomes a re-ordering of literary tradition as well ... The intelligence of The Surrendered lies in an awareness that while, on the one hand, wherever there is anguish there will forever be those working to alleviate it, on the other, no force exists powerful enough to entirely eradicate the memory of evil.
RaveThe Chicago TribuneThe rock 'n' roll novel has become a kind of artistic rite of passage for many writers born into the second half of the last century. It creates instant Americana and illusions of glamour, allows for riffs on togetherness, heartbreak, compromise and self-destruction, and indulges the aspiring hipster in every author. Now Jennifer Egan has written hers. Rather than the knee-jerk genre exercise such efforts often become, though, A Visit from the Goon Squad stands on its own, and we hear it loud and clear.