RaveThe Seattle Times\"Chigozie Obioma’s second novel... is a rare treasure: a book that deepens the mystery of the human experience ... The narration by the guardian spirit, who has lived for hundreds of years, allows the author to dispense life lessons in a pleasing and authoritative way ... With the chi serving as a kind of defense attorney, Obioma can more completely fill in the details of Chinonso’s personality and upbringing — to make a case for his fundamental goodness ... This acknowledgment of life’s mystery — and a willingness to embrace it — makes An Orchestra of Minorities a transcendent read.\
PositiveThe Seattle TimesIn company with only a handful of other star athletes, he is more than deserving of a lengthy, comprehensive biography, this one written gracefully by historian Raymond Arsenault. The author’s meticulous treatment of his subject is bolstered by a vast trove of sources ... Arsenault’s 780-page book can get bogged down in inside-tennis arcana (such as obscure disputes among the organizations that governed the sport); nevertheless, this biography is a laudable achievement. Arsenault moves seamlessly between sports and social history, marking time with tennis competitions and civil-rights milestones.
PositiveThe Seattle TimesThe story begins like a taut mystery and morphs into a romance between two tentative lovers, beset by loss ... More than leitmotif, the natural world is omnipresent in the big city, and it frames and informs the lives of the novel’s characters. Foxes, parakeets, falcons, owls and a seal inhabit the story. The author deftly implies that the elusive foxes mirror the emotions of the human lovers. Forna’s prose is precise and often stunning in its clarity ... This book starts slowly and deliberately, but burns brightly when it matters most.
RaveThe Seattle TimesThe narration is deceptively simple, transporting the reader to unexpected and wondrous places … Mukherjee plays with fictional form. His chapters vary in length from eight to nearly 100 pages with seemingly discrete stories and characters. As the novel progresses the reader makes subtle connections — a common character, a shared sensibility, a sequence of morals — and the book coheres in places as if by alchemy … The barriers between classes in India at first appear rigid and impenetrable, but Mukherjee finds commonality by thoroughly inhabiting their lives … Beyond the verbal flourishes, these stories have a redemptive quality.
RaveThe Seattle TimesJonathan Eig’s masterful new biography of the champ is both captivating and highly relevant to the current discussions on race in America ...comprehensive research included more than 500 interviews with more than 200 people from the boxer’s life, and material from recently discovered audio interviews with Ali ... Eig’s boxing descriptions are taut and lively, wisely eschewing the purple prose of the literary set who have written about the sport... Muhammad Ali was one of the most compelling figures in the 20th century, and Eig does ample justice to capturing his extraordinary and enduring legacy.
RaveThe Seattle TimesA Pulitzer Prize winner and recipient of a MacArthur 'Genius' award, Boo spent more than three years exhaustively researching Behind the Beautiful Forevers, interviewing residents, visiting jails and courts, and poring over thousands of pages of public records ...this bravura work of nonfiction reads more like a novel for the gratifying completeness of its characters and the journey they travel over the course of several months in 2008, centering on the shocking death of a female resident of the slum and a young man who is falsely accused of her murder ... Hunger, disease, hazardous jobs and continual threats that the slum will be razed add to sense of impermanence and powerlessness for Annawadi denizens ... Boo brings us inside their world... Boo's writing skills are such that she can render even a dirty slum lovely, and on a deeper level, extract sublime irony from a seemingly straightforward news story.
RaveThe Seattle TimesReading Mohsin Hamid’s penetrating, prescient new novel feels like bearing witness to events that are unfolding before us in real time ... Hamid’s portrayal of contemporary America through the eyes of a newcomer is startling for its bird’s-eye detachment ... Hamid is a sly stylist with an uncanny gift for metaphor ... Toward the end of the book, Saeed and Nadia grow apart as a couple, and the narrative stalls a bit, but the novel more than holds together and retains its urgent, extraordinary relevance to current events.
RaveThe Seattle Times\"...[a] magnificently conceived novel ... Auster’s spot-on depiction of boyhood friendships and the first blooms of love and intimacy with Amy are lovely and memorable. 4 3 2 1 is also a brilliant compendium of the tumultuous 1960s: the anti-war and civil-rights movements; political assassinations; and the film, music, literature and sports of the era ... Auster dazzles with descriptive gems too numerous to count ... the development and mingling of four versions of Archie Ferguson not only illuminate and enhance his character, it gives the storytelling the power of enchantment that sustains the reader through the length of the book.\
Karl Ove Knausgaard and Fredrik Ekelund
RaveThe Seattle Times...[a] captivating and even profound book by two writers at the top of their game ... This book spoke to me as a soccer player and fan, highlighting in sublime detail the players and plays from a dramatic tournament ... Among the unexpected pleasures of the book is the power of letter writing to tell stories and deepen relationships. The two friends write intensely about the match of the day, then launch into fascinating musings that never seem off-topic or tangential because they are connected in the minds of the writers ... So yes, Home and Away is about soccer, but it is, unpredictably and delightfully, much more than that.
RaveThe Seattle Times...the narrative framework is fertile ground for Jin’s brilliant and nuanced political and social observations ... These are cogent, incisive impressions, and it feels like a miracle — and a splendid irony — that an immigrant writer can fashion a novel with such quintessentially American themes from the front lines of the Chinese diaspora.
PositiveThe Seattle TimesIvey’s writing is assured and deftly paced. She presents a pleasing chorus of voices and writing styles in an amalgam of journals, letters, newspaper clippings, greeting cards, official reports and more. While the Colonel’s diary entries are log-like in their matter-of-fact descriptions (at least at the start of the trip), Sophie’s writing is more intimate and idiosyncratic, revealing her independent spirit and kind heart. The couple’s moving love story binds the multilayered narrative together.
RaveThe Seattle Times...a spellbinding account of the quest to stop Germany from building an atomic bomb ... Bascomb uses diaries, memoirs, letters and interviews with family members to vividly re-create both action and dialogue. He includes remarkable details, such as team members receiving orders by listening to coded language on BBC news reports and the wind in a hellacious winter storm they encountered sounding like 'muddled screams' ... The narrative naturally flags a bit after the raid but otherwise The Winter Fortress is a taut and peerlessly told adventure story full of thrills, derring-do and heart-stopping tension.
Viet Thanh Nguyen
RaveThe Seattle TimesBetween plot peaks, Nguyen roams wildly, the better to explore many fascinating tangents. Nguyen’s prose is often like a feverish, frenzied dream, a profuse and lively stream of images sparking off the page ... this remarkable, rollicking read by a Vietnamese immigrant heralds an exciting new voice in American literature.
PositiveThe Seattle TimesIrving plays delightful havoc with this colorful collection of humanity, beguiling us from start to finish.