RaveFinancial Times (UK)There is lots and lots of sex in this book, tenderly written, primal, graphic, respectful ... If it does begin to feel like every scene is a facilitation for more coitus, it falls in keeping with the novel’s foundational belief in love and human connection — providing access to a beautiful world beneath our vulgar reality — as the primary reason to exist ... Our present-day, screen-navigated existences are accurately, maybe excessively, tracked in line with the email take on epistolary form; there are also text conversations, over-detailed internet searches and unnecessary descriptions of tech activity. Perhaps this is the point — our reliance on its power to both guide and connect us — but the inordinate tracking gives the effect at times of a rather robotic, plodding spatial delineation ... All forgivable, in the limpid realm of this luxurious prose. I think overall this is Rooney’s strongest writing thus far, bathed in a soft white light — she does some wonderful things with light, and air — bearing (sometimes heavy) glimmers of James Salter and Proust in its dense, photographic mapping of everyday conscious experience, then spanning outwards to our small consequence in the vastness of the universe ... There is a touching honesty and truthfulness in these pages, along with a quiet brilliance, and that seems something for art to offer amid the anguished state of the world: to show how we live, to ask how we can live
PositiveThe Guardian (UK)...animated dialogue is a delight throughout the novel, and Moomi’s voice is the loudest among the vivid, persuasive characters who bring this Yoruba community to life ... Adébáyò has been tutored in writing by both Margaret Atwood and fellow Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and though there is still room for growth, she has a thoroughly contemporary style that is all her own. Her clever and funny take on domestic life and Nigerian society is a welcome addition to her country’s burgeoning literary scene. Despite the intense sadness of her subject matter, she has produced a bright, big-hearted demonstration of female spirit, as well as the damage done by the boundlessness of male pride.
RaveThe Independent (UK)There is an apparent ease of composition and confidence of direction. There is enough texture of detail, colour, cruelty and sensibility to give the writing that elusive feeling of reality. But the winning component is Packer\'s authorial voice: uncompromising, funny, angry without the obsession, political without tedium, intensely human, peppered with astonishing moments of poetry ... This is a book full of journeys and escape, of characters displaced or alone, who often find that their destinations pose even more profound threats to their survival ... While Packer does seem over-preoccupied with black and white, she allows her lens to take in the grey areas between. In her darting through history and the present, she poses that essential question: how much has really changed? ... Serious and contentious, she never loses hold of the craft and delight of storytelling.
PositiveFinancial TimesCoates’s love of comics and his contributions to the Marvel empire are apparent in the epic daring of this tale, its allegiance to the fantastic and mythical. Yet, as in his non-fiction there is a solid grounding in brutal reality, here reaching back into history, in particular the era of the American civil war. Although at times the research lays heavily on the first-person narrative, impeding on the delicious flow and natural lift of Coates’s writing, it does offer fresh insight into the never-ending labyrinth of a terror that has broken the world ... It’s not always easy to navigate this terminology, with its imposed, possibly ironic capitalisations and cumbersome effect, but I do love a novel with a language, and it’s an important element in Coates’s wider project ... is not a novel of natural virtuosity or masterful ease. Despite some beautiful description and an elegance of tone, it is tentative, almost withholding in its scene-setting, its characters don’t quite lift off the page, and there is occasional idiomatic misjudgment in its dialogue. Drenched in centurial sorrow, the voice of the tale nevertheless has a piercing resonance, reminding us of the imperative of continuing this painful archaeology, not just to honour those who were tortured, murdered and abused, but to understand its impact on our troubled contemporaneity ... A transcendent, arresting work from a crucial political and literary artist, now with an expanded repertoire.
Eric Beck Rubin
RaveThe GuardianRubin writes with grace and exactitude, giving a tangible, animated quality to the sensual world of his story. We can almost hear those piano keys ... Dirk himself, though at first a cliche of the charismatic, irreverent teen rebel, becomes utterly convincing—most of all through his voice, which is crystal clear and rich in humour ... The Dutch landscape is also sharply observed with precise, passing detail, the cobbled roads and tall houses set close to the street, and foods such as chocolate-covered stroopwafels ... Both tender and truthful in its evoking of the canyon that lies between the openness of youth and the dangerous restraint of middle age, this is a luminous, quiet storm of a novel that resounds long after its heartbreaking coda.
RaveThe Guardian\"This is not simply a love story, but a wider portrait of the ricocheting manifestations and effects of love in its various stages, as well as a serious examination of connection and coexistence ... The novel’s perspective is that of the nonchalant outsider, possessing the generosity of vision afforded by distance and thus perfectly placed for the best view ... Sprawling yet composed, worldly yet intimate, it is a tender evocation of the kaleidoscopic nature of the urban wilderness, as well as a challenge to the imposed centrality of the human animal.\
Terese Marie Mailhot
RaveThe GuardianThis is a voice so distinct in tone, texture and personality that the community from which it springs is immediately rendered secondary. Mailhot writes compassionately from deep within the Native experience, never losing sight of her responsibility towards its telling, never losing sight of herself. The personal is indeed political ... This is a slim book full of raw and ragged pain, the poisonous effects of sexual abuse, of racial cruelty, of violence and self-harm and drug addiction. But it is not without a wry, deadpan humour and clever derision. Its quiet rage is directed outwards towards the intangible yet definitive (white supremacy, male supremacy), the unjust shape of the world, while a deep tenderness and empathy are shown to those who share in the author’s vulnerability ... She has succeeded by telling the ugly truth with rich and beautiful words, sumptuous imagery and an unforgettable speech. This is a startling book.
PositiveThe Financial TimesAttica Locke’s fourth novel is based on an unusual premise ... Here we have a mystery perplexing enough to carry a wayward, whisky-drinking detective on a journey through the racial faultlines that have defined his own experience ... is both chilling and palpable, the level of race hate and discrimination that Locke portrays in her locales...is as well a more nuanced observation of racial tensions and relationships, which despite the slowness of this novel — it is gripping more in its philosophical than in its detective line of inquiry — seem also to be at the heart of Locke’s concerns ...most satisfying about this crime novel is its use of the crime as a device with which to explore something much larger and universal, and to do so with copious amounts of space.
PositiveThe Guardian...animated dialogue is a delight throughout the novel, and Moomi’s voice is the loudest among the vivid, persuasive characters who bring this Yoruba community to life ... Adébáyò has been tutored in writing by both Margaret Atwood and fellow Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and though there is still room for growth, she has a thoroughly contemporary style that is all her own. Her clever and funny take on domestic life and Nigerian society is a welcome addition to her country’s burgeoning literary scene. Despite the intense sadness of her subject matter, she has produced a bright, big-hearted demonstration of female spirit, as well as the damage done by the boundlessness of male pride.
PositiveThe Guardian...a hugely empathic, unflinching portrayal of west Africa’s role in the transatlantic slave trade ... It is an enormous feat for a new writer, but Gyasi rises to the challenge. At the centre of each well-crafted, well-researched narrative episode there is a clearly defined and complex protagonist who we come to care deeply about, largely because of the extent of their suffering ... Love is the glue that binds these life stories together, the chapters a series of couplings and begettings making way for the next in line. Gyasi’s portrayal of physical love between men and women makes for some of the novel’s most powerful scenes ... Homegoing loses some of its urgency in the later segments, perhaps because there are fewer rapes, no bleeding love scenes, no sudden thefts of freedom. There is also too vast an array of lives and emotional interiors to take in; the book becomes overloaded, lacking a central thread, and we begin to forget ... here is a book to help us remember. It is well worth its weight.