MixedNew York Journal of BooksSome readers may give up on the story in its early stages because Sebastian and Oscar appear unlikeable and are totally egotistical and absorbed with themselves. But after 50 pages, the story begins to gel better resulting in the reader investing a little more in trying to understand the viewpoints of Sebastian and Oscar as they mull over various facets of being gay. But their perpetual struggle to find meaning and connection in their own emotional struggles prevents the reader from appreciating that a larger percentage of gay people are happy and content in their lives than those who are not. The reader risks being left with wondering if the reason for their unhappiness is because they are gay or is part of a wider American obsession with happiness—the feeling that everyone has a right to be happy or, at least, feel happy ... The greatest weakness in the novel is that readers will find it difficult to develop an affinity with either of the two main characters, coupled with unrealistic plotting ... sometimes feels like a crossover between a self-help guidebook and fiction, particularly when Sebastian and Oscar get into their own style of self-analysis, but the plot is nevertheless engrossing and contains a good level of suspense. What is clearly evident is that Salih has the potential to be a good writer.
Pauline Delabroy-Allard, Trans. by Adriana Hunter
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksThis is simply a remarkable creation by Delabroy-Allard who deserves huge congratulations for writing such a gripping and evocative debut novel. Set in Paris, it captures an engrossing and compelling same-sex love affair between the narrator (name unknown) and Sarah. A love affair that consists of ecstasy and magic coupled with emotional pain and misery in equal measure ... a faultless tour de force from start to finish which gives glimpses of a love that is sometimes dysfunctional, painful, and profound. This is a bold novel, make no mistake; some readers will love it and others won’t. The sex acts between the two women are described in fairly graphic detail sometimes, and this will inevitably stir up internalized homophobia from within the LGBTQ+ community among those who haven’t reconciled with their own feelings towards the same sex. And when that occurs, envy, rejection and criticism often result—even from literature ... Disliking a story and criticizing its writing style are two separate entities. In this case, disliking They Say Sarah would be difficult because the story is so well told. Skill and craftsmanship ooze from this beautiful novel. It would be a cliché to just say that it’s well written because that wouldn’t do the book full justice. The writing style and layout portray a clever, innovative, and incredibly talented approach by Delabroy-Allard. She certainly is a writer of the present and the future.
Philippe Besson, trans. by Molly Ringwald
RaveNew York Journal of BooksIf you have ever been desperately in love and overwhelmed with intense and insatiable desire that ended in heartache and loss then this is the ideal book for you ... [an] enthralling story that is wonderfully told ... Although this is a short novel consisting of just 150 pages, Lie with Me will enthrall the reader from start to finish. The prose is so spot on. Besson seems incapable of wasting a word. His descriptions, his feelings, and his memories are precise and captivating.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"This is Strom’s debut novel, and what an incredibly good piece of writing it proves to be. He is an excellent writer and has produced a well-crafted novel. It’s not perfect, though, and readers may feel the first part less riveting than the second ... The novel concludes with a very satisfying ending ... The writing is very consistent and will draw readers into the story to the point that they care about the outcome of the main characters.\