RaveVogueMy Year Abroad is an extraordinary book, acrobatic on the level of the sentence, symphonic across its many movements—and this is a book that moves ... a wild ride—a caper, a romance, a bildungsroman, and something of a satire of how to get filthy rich in rising Asia. This isn’t a book that skates through its many disparate-seeming scenes, but rather unites them in the heartfelt adventure of its protagonist, who begins his year \'abroad\' as a foreign land to himself and arrives at something like belonging by the end of his story.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewGornick’s new book is part memoiristic collage, part literary criticism, yet it is also an urgent argument that rereading offers the opportunity not just to correct and adjust one’s recollection of a book but to correct and adjust one’s perception of oneself ... If there’s something both simplistic and almost academic-seeming in that prescription for greater enlightenment, Gornick’s lively, personable book is evidence of the pleasure that can result from the endeavor. Unfinished Business is sneakily poignant ... the book moves beyond these elegantly rendered but somewhat superficial dimensions of her life to traverse her greatest disappointments ... It is one of the great ironies of consuming literature that as much as we read to expand our minds, we often take in only whatever it is that we are primed to absorb at a particular moment. Do not, Gornick says in this brief, incisive book, let that be the end of it.
RaveThe New RepublicIn Dear Life, she shows no sign of running out of material nor any sloppiness toward the form she has so gracefully deployed for almost half a century. The book is more, however, than just the latest evidence of her excellence. Munro offers something striking in Dear Life: a distinct turn to autobiography and a revealing window into the workings of her mind ... The \'not quite stories\' are more like meditations on memory and analyses of the act of storytelling than biographical sketches. Reading these stories will tell you something about Alice Munro’s life, but it will tell you more about Alice Munro’s mind—and, not entirely surprisingly, this proves to be even more compelling ... Even when she is hewing close to personal history, she is conscious of the particular kind of truth required by fiction—perfect pitch and proportion, and perhaps less verisimilitude.
PositiveVogueThe book can sometimes veer into cultural generalization, but it does so with a knowingness that deflects any criticism; [Kois] wasn’t going to really know the culture a few months, and he knows it ... Kois is a self-aware, menschy, and amusing guide to this adventure, picking apart what you can leave behind, what you can pick up along the way, and what will follow you wherever you are.
RaveVogueThis is not single-strand auto-fiction, a thin mask for the author’s experience. It is an ambitious, structurally complex, allusive book. This is a first novel, but it doesn’t read like one. No offense to first-time novelists, but this is a layered, structurally ambitious, emotionally complex work told from shifting perspectives.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewAt best, this [alternating narrators] mechanism offers a subtle commentary on the way Viv and Donald process their shared life. But Mercury suffers from a self-consciousness that undermines whatever elegant observation this mechanism allows. Both Don and Viv indicate that they’re writing down their own version of events. But why are they doing this? To exchange their true confessions like pen pals sending missives from the living room to the kitchen? ... It’s a book that doesn’t quite measure up to its ambitions.