RaveNew York Journal of BooksReading Dangerously is a political writer’s brilliant attempt to understand historical and political events, as well as human nature, such that one feels her struggle to offer honest, well considered suppositions. Her carefully chosen words and her attempt to articulate cogent analyses ultimately lead readers to deeper understanding of the importance of literature as an act of resistance ... \'Great works of fiction are about revealing the truth, [and] great writers . . . become witnesses to the truth; they do not, cannot, remain silent.\' These words perfectly describe Azar Nafisi’s passion for truth and her mission as a writer. They also bear witness to her many gifts as a critical thinker and a gifted literary figure.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... captures the strength, character, and suffering of native peoples everywhere ... compelling and well-crafted ... Birch is writing about more than inhumane laws and the sadistic people who enforced them. He is also writing about the fundamental decency of both Black and white people, the ties of family that cannot be broken, the love of family, and the support friends across the color spectrum ... With well-developed characters and well-paced suspense that keep the pages turning, Birch’s story is told in simple but powerful prose ... This heartbreaking, beautiful story about fundamental human decency, and its absence, offers a reminder about what matters in life regardless of race, economic, or educational status, and oppression, real or threatened. Through the lives of strong women, and the men who care about them, readers will find a story of courage, connection, dedication, and honor ... All of this is rendered in a carefully crafted work of fiction that makes good writing seem easy. But writers like Tony Birch, whose work derives from a reality with which the author is deeply familiar, know how difficult it is to tell the stories of their people. We have reason to be grateful that they do.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksIn her typical fashion, Benedict brings to life Franklin’s personality as well as her skill ... [some] events may be fictionalized, but they make for a well-rounded character, and a very good read ... One can also hope that Marie Benedict will continue to honor hidden women with her beautifully crafted and carefully researched historical novels that bring them to light.
Klara Hveberg, Tr. Alison McCullough
RaveNew York Journal of Books... a stunning debut novel about unrequited love, longing, obsession, betrayal, and more. Complex and alluring ... Aided by ruminations about numbers, music, and literature [the protagonist] comes to accept her fate in ways and words that make us want to embrace her as if she were a child who understands the world far beyond her years ... She breaks [readers\' hearts] by carrying on alone, exploring life’s meaning in solitude and with a resignation as beautiful as a sonata or a great work of literature.
Zülfü Livaneli, tr. Brendan Freely
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksA short but powerful novel that might well be described as a political treatise wrapped in a parable ... Gripping ... The book becomes a philosophical treatise about everything that plagues the world.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksIn just 170 pages Isabel Allende manages to write a humorous memoir, an homage to her family, all of whom seem to have walked off the pages of her delicious novels, and a feminist plea for women’s rights and agency around the globe. The prolific author also reveals her joie de vivre, her resilience, determination, intelligence, and priorities now that she is in her seventh decade. She also shares her foibles and idiosyncrasies honestly and without self-defense ... No matter what ideas or memories Allende shares in this gem of reflection, feminism dominates the messages of this book. Readers who have not been exposed to or engaged with the stunning lives of women around the world will be surprised and shocked to read what she reveals; those who are aware of the situations and conditions so many women endure, survive, and advocate against will welcome her calls to action ... Allende also addresses sexuality, passion, and relationships honestly and humorously as we age ... opens our eyes, encourages us to live meaningful, independent, contented lives, and makes us wish we could be friends with this fine writer and feminist icon.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... Heinecke has captured their lives, their times, and their friendship in a beautifully crafted work of creative nonfiction as gripping as any novel of Belle Epoch Paris ... In sharing their stories, Liz Heinecke has shined a light on two remarkable women whose work and friendship was a gift to each other and to the world.
PanThe New York Journal of Books... while it provides a glimpse of racial travesties along with familial and class clashes, there is nothing new or nuanced adding to what we know historically and in this time of heightened awareness. ... What we are likely to remember about this story is a selfish character and stereotypes that do little to enlighten.
Janice P. Nimura
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksNimura’s biography of Elizabeth and Emily, along with their five siblings, is thorough and for the most part compelling. It is wide-ranging and involves the obsessively close family and the feminists two of the brother married, the social beliefs and norms of the time, and reveals the horrors of 19th century medicine, particularly heinous for women.
Rosayra Pablo Cruz and Julie Schwietert Collazo
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... a story that will remain with readers, and likely motivate many of them to engage in advocacy and support on behalf of women and children who remain in the grip of America’s current policy toward asylum ... it is Rosy’s telling of her story that is stunningly moving as she describes the magnitude and the impact of the human tragedy taking place still ... How can those who read this compelling story of courage, commitment, connection, and love not want to share it with others?
Carlos Manuel Álvarez
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksIf Carlos Manuel Alvarez’s debut novel The Fallen is any indicator, he is a Cuban writer to watch. His writing is intelligent, powerful, and insightful, and his short novel will prove to be enlightening for those who have visited Cuba, or wish to ... By allowing readers to listen, almost voyeuristically, to the characters tell their stories in fugue-like progression, Alvarez charts the disintegration of a family that symbolizes the breakdown of a country and a culture torn between the older generation’s idealism and the pragmatism and hopes of their progeny. The result is often startling and incisive ... a truly gifted writer.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books... another good read ... Alvarez clearly draws on her own life ... Along with capturing the people and atmosphere of her chosen state, as well as those who emigrate there and hide from the authorities, she also brings the sensitivities and sensibilities of Latina culture into her work. All of that adds substance and verisimilitude to the story she tells ... In the end, Alvarez helps Antonia, and us, believe that despite the depths of human suffering in the world and in Antonia’s life, Antonia will be able to imagine and live a life beyond loss. She will carry on and come back to the world, perhaps strengthened by adversity. That is a gift we gladly welcome from a good and acclaimed writer.
Isabel Allende, Trans. by Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksDevoted readers of Isabel Allende will likely be thrilled to see another novel from her poetic pen. Those who may have taken a break after loving The House of the Spirits and Eva Luna, along with Paula, will be glad to see that she has recaptured her unique and distinctive voice, sharing that gift which makes us love her characters for their human frailties and their quiet fortitude ... an amazing cast of characters, each lovable and courageous in their own unique ways ... Whether sharing a piece of history or capturing the theme of this fictional book through the words of a character, Allende beautifully reveals the mastery of her prose and the meaning of her tale.
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... literary cognoscente will appreciate Vivian Gornick’s brilliance as a literary critic and her erudite, mature analysis. Others may find that analysis challenging if not inaccessible, especially if they are not familiar with the writers about whom Gornick writes. Nonetheless, for readers of good and important literature, this short book can be savored ... This collection of essays cuts across literary criticism, memoir, and biography as Gornick intersperses personal experience with literary insight, connecting those two elements in extraordinary ways. One sees clearly how growing older and more sophisticated in her thinking has made her a more astute observer of literature and people. We learn not just from a gifted critic, but from the interpretation of a person who lives life with a capital L ... pure Vivian Gornick—not always easy reading, but sufficiently gripping to make us carry on, page after page, with her as our teacher and literary mentor.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksThis first of its kind essay collection in which 19 Arab and Middle Eastern women journalists, reporters, and photographers share their experiences couldn’t be more timely or important. With Islamophobia rising and conflicts in the Middle East growing, women’s reportorial voices, missing until now, are more vital than ever, as are the voices of Arabs who live and work in the region and who understand the cultures about which they write as no outsider could ... These are daring, personal, and heartfelt tales of troubling times well told. They shatter stereotypes and offer a necessary view on a part of the world too frequently misunderstood, while revealing the sexism and harassment that women journalists encounter while doing their difficult work. They help us understand why women continue to do this dangerous work ... Lebanese-British journalist Zahra Hankir has gifted us with these women’s experiences and their voices. For that women, journalists, editors, and newsrooms can be grateful.
MixedNew York Journal of BooksThe book should be recognized as having some serious flaws ... Why doesn’t Parveen have a few more years and a graduate degree under her belt before heading off to one of the world’s most complex countries because of the inspiration of a book which proves to be totally fraudulent? How is it that in a country as male-dominated, conservative, and gender-segregated as Afghanistan does a young woman, and a foreigner at that, garner such respect and inclusion among the men, Afghan and American? How is her Dari sufficiently excellent that she can think, speak and translate fluidly? Why do the women of the household accept and come to love her when she has usurped them with her access to the powerbrokers and freedom of movement so absolutely denied to them? ... To her credit, Waldman works her way to more dialogue and less third-party narration as the story progresses. She also offers an array of stunning events as the denouement begins, born of poor judgement, western perspectives, and military and political interventions by egotists who don’t care to try understanding Afghanistan’s culture ... To the great relief of readers, finally Parveen gets it (after being rejected by her hosts), redeeming the important, and ultimately sensitive story that Waldman has written. It would have been even more gripping without its literary flaws.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"It is a short but darkly powerful tale about the struggle to control one’s fate, especially if one is female ... Mythic and allegorical, the story is unlike anything else Plath is known to have written ... But while [Plath] was self-absorbed and fatally sad, she also gave us a cynical voice capable of demonstrating the lines between hope and reality. She transformed that voice in a way that examined womanhood, innocence, identity—and even death—as no other writer of her time did. And it’s all there in a 64-page short story, newly gifted to her followers.\
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksReaders who have trouble accepting the Hasidic way of life, and the unending rituals of learning among men of the Hasidic tradition, may find the accounts of Burger’s unrelenting psychological and intellectual struggles a distraction if not at times an unwanted interruption. But he has done a great service in bearing witness himself to the work and life of a great and humble man, who would probably reject the notion that he was a learned master, a legendary philosopher, and perhaps what one might call an intellectual philanthropist ... Wiesel was all this and more. We are lucky to have been in his classroom and to be privy to his memories, thoughts and wisdom through this important and moving memoir.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"The power of this well-written novel grows as the story moves forward both historically and fictionally. Characters become increasingly likeable and worthy of our sympathetic response to their words and deeds.\
Dorthe Nors, Trans. by Misha Hoekstra
RaveNew York Journal of Books\"While there’s not much plot, the characters are finely drawn, offering deep insight into human nature, especially if they are marginal. Readers come away with an appreciation for the troubled protagonist, along with a deep respect for skilled writing that exposes frailty coupled with incipient intelligence in the carefully drawn main character ... Nors writes with clarity, insight, warmth, and humor ... Nors leaves readers with at least a sense that whatever comes around the next bend, somehow Sonja will cope. Even her distant sister would likely be relieved by that.\