Izumi Suzuki, trans. by Sam Bett, Daniel Joseph, and Helen O’Horan
RaveThe Washington PostAn enjoyably acidic and darkly funny set of stories in which the novelty is not always so much in the ideas as in the consistently engaging execution. Suzuki’s distinctly misanthropic voice enlivens these narratives of women whose mundane lives are altered — sometimes humorously, sometimes catastrophically — by science-fictional or supernatural occurrences ... If the story feels bloated, Suzuki and the translator (David Boyd, in this instance) nevertheless capture the strange beauty of the language of fannish subcultures, precise and deeply knowledgeable, impenetrable to the uninitiated but attractive enough to sometimes snare the curious ... Though cynicism pervades this collection, it isn’t absolute.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewKing neatly weaves together the lives of the city’s residents by tracing the paths of the artifacts passing between them: a propaganda pamphlet, a white scarf, an extracted tooth ... King’s style in this book regularly recalls those of the great cartographers of similar imaginary spaces, like Mervyn Peake and Gene Wolfe, though his aims are different. His prose is not as wonderfully ornate as theirs, but it has its own smooth lyricism and evocative imagery ... This novel is richly imagined, its surface pleasures deliberately subverted by the bleak suggestion at its core: that a successful organized attempt to reduce inequity will have to overcome not just the inertia of a nation’s politics, but human nature.
RaveNew York Times Book Reviewan epic in the vein of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas or Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift, whose frameworks allow their authors to flex their skills with both historical and speculative fiction ... A weird, ambitious novel ... Swan’s staccato sentences can be evocative ... Swan’s prose wonderfully portrays things they cannot comprehend but whose meanings are nonetheless plain to the reader. This rich, endlessly engaging novel is, one hopes, the first in a long career for an author who has the talent and imagination to write whatever she wants.
PositiveNew York Times... richly entertained by the lavish world-building and breakneck plotting of Natasha Pulley’s The Kingdoms, and it’s best to approach the book knowing as little as possible, in order to experience the reveal of its setting along with its amnesiac protagonist ... Other characters have a habit of withholding crucial information from poor Joe about his surroundings and identity, or supplying it piecemeal, as if they wish to prolong his suspense. This becomes less of an immediate concern once the narrative begins to accelerate through a page-turning procession of kidnapping, imprisonment, romance and naval warfare — the last rendered in compelling, gory detail. Beautiful, surreal imagery appears throughout the novel, too ... If there’s no mystery here, the dramatic irony that takes its place is a fine substitute ... Pulley mostly plays fair with her plotting, even with her sly misdirections, and in the novel’s bittersweet final pages things click neatly into place. Readers of historical fiction who view the genre as a chance to pit their talent for pedantry against the author’s will find a strong opponent ... Clear a weekend if you can, and let yourself be absorbed.