PositiveThe Guardian (UK)Andrée’s bold and playful tone is captured perfectly in Lauren Elkin’s translation from the French, which conveys, in pared-down prose, Andrée’s beguiling sensibility and the ways in which Sylvie is enraptured by her ... Sylvie is endearingly vulnerable because she risks loving Andrée. The idolised subject of her affection does not reciprocate the strength of her feelings, nor does she believe herself to be lovable. What I find most touching...is the description of Sylvie losing her faith.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewMary Morris’s All the Way to the Tigers is a travel memoir and quest. Alluringly written in short, meditative chapters, it whizzes back and forth between America and India ... he conceptual opportunity in a memoir such as this is to understand that the reader is stalking the elusive striped beast alongside the narrator. There are six eyes doing the staring: narrator’s and tiger’s, and then the reader’s — another predatory beast waiting to lock eyes with the narrator at the moment she locks eyes with the tiger. It is unfortunate, then, that we don’t really understand what it is that Morris is searching for in her wild animal ... I think the tiger is required to do something for her, quite a few things, because the narrator is recovering from a traumatic and serious ice-skating injury. Most important, the tiger is there to give her a glimpse of something \'savage\' that might be lurking inside herself ... The interesting question Morris asks of her own adventurous and courageous life — \'How do we walk a thin line between sane and savage, between wild and tame?\' — is the beating heart of this book. It needs to have been ripped out of the beast, still pulsing and warm, rather than gently prodded.
Han Kang, Trans. by Deborah Smith
PositiveThe GuardianAt its most engaging, the writing edges close to becoming a brilliant psychogeography of grief, moving as it does between place, history and memory. If Han’s monotone is relentlessly poised and never flinches from serene dignity, perhaps it could not be written in any other way ... a mysterious text, perhaps in part a secular prayer book. I admire its intention, form and purpose. Some of the most affecting writing comes when the narrator speaks directly to her baby sister ... Translated seamlessly by Smith, The White Book succeeds in reflecting Han’s urgent desire to transcend pain with language.
PositiveThe Financial TimesI am always partial to a slightly unhinged, yet sophisticated female character with a problem, and Naomi doesn’t disappoint. She feels empty and angry and doesn’t know why ... After the drama of the main crime, the action moves to the sun-baked, 'defiantly morose' villages of Italy. It is there that Faoud makes his way to a new life, in the chilling knowledge that his own life is regarded as worthless. This is a theme that could be developed further, but Osborne has chosen not to do so. Nevertheless, Faoud’s plight and state of mind is unfolded with dignity and sympathy. Osborne offers an astute, unsentimental critique of the contemporary world in crisis ... In the last third of the novel, there is too much resolution — the tying up of loose ends that would be better off blowing in the wind. All the same, Beautiful Animals is mostly a page turner. It would make a blockbuster film. Most impressive of all, and there is much to be impressed by, Osborne handles surface and depth with immense skill, as only great writers can do. Beautiful Animals is his most accomplished book so far — a big, clever, crazed beast of a novel.
RaveThe Guardian...[an] engaging memoir, in which the reader is invited to walk through perceptual and conceptual walls with her. It is a wry invitation to trace how such themes have been a preoccupation over five decades of groundbreaking performance art ... the early childhood chapters in the memoir that are the most interesting and, in a sense, the book’s centre of gravity ... although Abramovi? is famous and highly visible, she is aware that her investigation into all the dimensions of presence requires the absence of her own ego. The act of writing a memoir as enjoyable as Walk Through Walls allows her to play with this paradox.