RaveThe Chicago Review of Books... educates and urges us to reframe—to (re)translate—the dominant narrative of what the West calls its civilization. Babel, brilliant both in concept and execution, is a page-turner with footnotes, a thriller with a higher purpose, a Bildungsroman where the stakes matter. Like Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, Saidiya Hartman’s Venus in Two Acts, or The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones, Babel is a necessary, timely rebuttal to current misreadings of history, and, like them, does so with innovative use of narrative forms and by redefining the nature of historical evidence. Having wept at the ending (no spoilers, but the epilogue offers a glimpse of hope and a likely sequel), I anticipate this important book sparking discussion, both about the novel qua novel and as a contribution to debates over how to remove and repair systemic global inequality and oppression ... Kuang creates an alternative world that reveals the power dynamics of our own history more trenchantly than do most histories on the non-fiction shelf. Babel may take place in a calque of the Regency and early Victorian eras but it is no costume drama, no play of light on the sunny uplands of misbegotten nostalgia. Kuang briskly demolishes the edifice of cruelty, cant, and racism with such erudition as to be undeniable, and with such provision of engaging characters as to make enlightenment unavoidable ... The depth and reach of what Babel covers delights as it informs ... I was immersed from the first sentence ... a mighty example of what Hartman calls \'critical fabulation,\' retelling a story—or helping us understand why some stories may be impossible to tell within genres defined and patrolled by those in power—through cross-linking emancipatory theory, speculative fiction, and interrogation of archival evidence, including the elisions, silenced voices, and falsehoods archives contain ... Kuang brings to life and makes visible what typically lies inert and truncated in traditional textbooks, or is missing from the curriculum altogether. Read Babel both for its derring-do and buddy adventure and for its nuanced but searing focus on how language drives power and maintains oppression.