RaveThe New York Times Book Review...[a] gripping debut novel ... [serves] as a reminder that even the negation of history — misguided and doomed to fail — arises from human frailty, our inability to reckon with ourselves ... Hofmann portrays this pervasive sense of syncope through rhythmic prose and powerful allusions to faith in an amoral world ... Throughout the book Zeiger is told that \'the why\' does not matter. That is probably true. And yet, Tolstoy’s oft-repeated lines, \'All happy families resemble one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,\' perhaps could also apply to authoritarian governments. While they share common aspects, they are, each of them, particular to their time and to the culture and history from which they arise. What Hofmann’s novel could have explored further is this: What made this one possible?
Négar Djavadi, Trans. by Tina Kover
RaveThe New York Times Book Review...[a] remarkable novel ... beautifully captures the \'disorientation\' of exile and the attempt to reconstruct a self through family stories ... If there is one element weighing down this rich novel (translated from the French by Tina Kover), it’s the exiled narrator’s compulsion to explain so much of her country’s past. The book contains not only extensive historical passages but also footnotes ... But perhaps explaining a lost world is part of any exile’s initial burden.
RaveThe New York Times Sunday Book ReviewSet in the Pakistani district of Punjab, the eight linked stories in this excellent book follow the lives of the rich and powerful Harouni family and its employees: managers, drivers, gardeners, cooks, servants … Manipulation unifies these stories, running through them as consistently as the Indus River flows south of Punjab. A dance of insincere compliments and favors asked at just the right moment — when the supplicant detects a benevolent mood — is performed by everyone. This bewildering pas de deux is familiar to all but the two American characters, whose ignorance causes grief to themselves and others … In this labyrinth of power games and exploits, Mueenuddin inserts luminous glimmers of longing, loss and, most movingly, unfettered love. But these emotions are often engulfed by the incessant chaos of this complicated country.