RaveSan Francisco ChronicleFunny and insightful ... Satisfying ... Humorously poignant ... Ma plays brilliantly with stereotypes without stereotyping. She deftly handles a multitude of plot threads and conflicts among Shelley’s web of connections in the U.S. and China as he carries on, almost in spite of himself ... She is a master of voice.
Bora Chung, trans. by Anton Hur
PositiveThe San Francisco ChronicleIn a mix of 10 horrifying and funny stories, some contemporary and some more archetypal, she explores human suffering and societal problems such as patriarchy and unregulated capitalism ... The strange and everyday are melded in these startling and original tales.
Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, trans. by Brian Fitzgibbon
RaveSan Francisco ChronicleA gorgeous, spiraling slow burn of a book ... Contrasting threads of birth and death, dark and light, clutter and space, weave a tapestry of sentences reminiscent of the grand-aunt’s elaborate embroideries ... To read this book is to immerse oneself in the natural world of Iceland. Vivid descriptions of weather and landscape, animals and plants, star-filled night skies and slivers of sunrises fill the pages and are never boring ... Daily moments of beauty and meaning enable Dómhildur and her grand-aunt to face the precariousness and harshness of life on our planet without much flinching, and remind us we can do the same – a necessary book for our time.
PositiveThe San Francisco ChroniclePartway through I did take time to learn more about Irish-Protestant tensions by reading websites and articles. Occasionally, I’d look up an unfamiliar turn of phrase. Did this enhance my appreciation of the story? Probably. I love a novel that inspires me to learn more about history, culture or language. But even if you don’t enjoy additional research, Kennedy’s powerful writing, tragic humor and vivid characters will move and haunt you.
PositiveThe San Francisco ChronicleEve’s reflections on her journey through grief ring true ... Whether this book affirms your own experience or provides a window to someone else’s, it is a satisfying read and testimony to our human ability to heal.
PositiveThe San Francisco ChronicleA genre-blurring murder mystery/coming of age story ... Ann is constantly trying to figure out where she stands in the shifting and complicated dynamic. As readers, we’re kept compellingly off balance right along with Ann ... Hays’ atmospheric descriptions of the exhibits, the gardens and the interior spaces enhance the mysterious and menacing interactions among the characters.
RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleThe Stolen Year: How COVID Changed Children’s Lives, and Where We Go Now is written by an education reporter, so I expected a book on the effects of COVID on education, and it is that, but so much more ... Anya Kamenetz chronicles the effects of the pandemic on the children of our country, providing a vivid picture of how we have failed our kids, especially those most vulnerable. In clear, concise, well-researched prose, she touches on centuries of U.S. history and the ways we have so often chosen to not support families, interspersed with examples of people taking matters into their own hands to create solutions at home and in their communities. I know I’m not alone in having trouble remembering these past two years. This book brought my own experiences as a teacher, parent and human being rushing back, affirming my struggle and that of those closest to me, while the wide range of voices from across the country broadened my perspective ... There is a lot of wisdom in these pages and inspiring examples of individuals ... not the manual of answers I had unrealistically hoped for when I picked it up, but the better we understand our failures and successes of these past two years — as individuals, as members of our local communities and as a wider society — the more likely we will be to take effective action in the next crisis. Maybe, as a place to start, this book should be required reading for us all.
Myriam J A Chancy
RaveSan Francisco ChronicleThe characters and descriptions are so vivid, complex and memorable that I almost expected the book itself to quake, crack open and spill forth its cacophony of voices. Many of us are hungry for stories of survival and resilience in this precarious world where the for-grantedness of life is fractured. This book delivers ... A reader does not have to be familiar with Haiti to absorb the cultural themes and references in this novel. What better way to understand a culture than to listen closely to stories from people’s diverse perspectives and experiences? Chancy takes us there with her powerful writing ... In less skilled hands, a novel with multiple points of view can be frustrating, especially when we prefer one voice to another. In What Storm, What Thunder, I was immediately taken with each new voice. I delighted in that small but powerful thrill of recognition when a character reappeared in another person’s story, deepening both my understanding of them and the sense that we are all connected ... Chancy’s compassionate and harrowing novel reminds us we are all part of the collective.