MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewWait, Blink feels most organic in...moments of squalor and when its plotlines intersect, an impressive feat given that its narrators revel in serendipity and coincidence. Allusions to Dante and Cervantes clang interestingly against the novel’s lively pop-culture riffs, among them a breakup occasioned by a feminist interpretation of Kill Bill Vol. 2 and a scatological spoof of Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. The form that most influences these pages seems to be the screenplay, and despite her stylish intelligence and sparkplug characters Oyehaug struggles to scratch the narrative’s cinematic veneer.
Dorthe Nors, Trans. by Misha Hoekstra
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe mind is Nors’s landscape, and yearning her true subject. Sonja’s is an objectless yearning, deeper than nostalgia. Page after addictive page, Nors pushes Sonja beyond her class betrayal and survivor’s guilt, beyond anger at her mother for encouraging her independence, into and, miraculously, out of a profound dislocation of the soul embodied by her vertigo, which bursts forth in a gorgeous, breathless finale ... This triumphant novel sounds the depths of women’s unseen strength in a register that reconciles enlightened feminism with working-class rage.
Hanne Ørstavik, Trans. by Martin Aitken
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewLove, a trim and electrifying novel ... is undergirded by the present tense and made incandescent by Orstavik’s seemingly effortless omniscient perspective, sometimes switching between Jon’s mind and Vibeke’s from sentence to sentence ... Orstavik’s mastery of perspective and clean, crackling sentences prevent sentimentality or sensationalism from trailing this story of a woman and her accidentally untended child ... The primeval darkness of the forest looms, biting as the cold that seems a character throughout this excellent novel of near misses.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewRiley skillfully fuels Suzy’s desire for self-determination with the indignities heaped upon her and her fellow stews — weigh-ins, height requirements, makeup checks ... There’s a familiar bicoastal rivalry in these pages. Held against New York, Riley’s California is 'a dumb pretty,' 'a physical space with its back turned on the news,' balmy and happening but also a provincial, apolitical la-la land...While the regional binary feels familiar, Riley has a stylish grasp of setting as the axis of place and time, writing about the era with captivating authority, palpable texture and a sure-footed knack for rebuilding a moment out of its pop detritus. Enthusiasts of ’70s music and literature will tumble into delightful pockets of nostalgia ... Ultimately, Riley’s vividly realized setting and Suzy’s firecracker spirit collide in a surprising whiplash climax. What do we do when we run out of continent? Fly Me hazards an answer to Joan Didion’s predicament: We take to the skies.
PositiveThe New RepublicHer book is both a diatribe and diary. She offers a polemic on a racist War on Drugs that allows her, a middle-class white woman, to use illegal substances with ease, as well as a daily record of the improved mood and increased focus she experiences each time she takes two drops of acid under the tongue ... Waldman is good company; she is candid, goofy, and beyond knowledgeable about the drugs she takes to stabilize her mood, and the risks she takes in procuring them ... Come for mom’s mental health memoir, stay for the careful and convincing polemic against the War on Drugs ... Eventually, Waldman’s honest and intelligent ethos takes the form of a humane, well-reasoned, and absolutely necessary argument for a major overhaul of America’s drug policy. The book triumphantly coheres in a lucid manifesto of how and why the racist, immoral undertaking called the War on Drugs has failed ... A Really Good Day is a passionate, persuasive argument for drug decriminalization disguised as an accessible memoir about one mother’s zany LSD experiment.