PositiveBookPageThe threshold for self-debasement and humiliation is high here, and it is on this subject that Yanagihara writes most compellingly (albeit disturbingly) ... Topically this is a lot to juggle, and nuance is a casualty of scope in this novel ... To Paradise feasts grimly on the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is not an anomaly, Yanagihara reminds us, but a blip in an increasingly illness-ridden world ... A dazzling experiment.
Jon Kalman Stefansson, Tr. Philip Roughton
PositiveBookPageIts world appears cemented in a far earlier time until the reader is yanked back to the modern age by delightfully unexpected mentions of Die Hard and other pop culture references ... It must be said that the narrator’s fascination with breasts is at times perplexing and serves no shrewd narrative goal ... Stefánsson’s observational writing soars when he lingers over life’s mundane wonders—a steaming cup of tea, a cloudy sky undulating over a field, lunchmeat, the silence of fish—and his abundant cottagey humor fits the landscape. A supernatural event at the depot rounds out the mysteries of this universe, where even Reykjavik is a distant thought.
Carolina De Robertis
RaveBookPageWithout ever naming him outright, The President and the Frog takes [José \'Pepe\'] Mujica’s stranger-than-fiction life story and imbues it with a quirky, mystical grace ... Deep, hilarious, tangential ... While De Robertis’ choice not to name the people and places of her novel may be viewed as stylistic bandwagoning, it allows her to remain engaged with the \'once upon a time\' dreaminess with which her novel kicks off. Yet it is perhaps because the novel is inspired by a real man’s life that it ultimately succeeds. The President and the Frog reminds us that hope can be found anywhere, even in the most wretched conditions.
RaveBookPage... elegantly discursive ... For readers unfamiliar with the Sri Lankan Civil War, A Passage North offers perspective on the Sinhalese-dominated government’s conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ... Arudpragasam expertly captures the ambiguity of romance between two young people who feel the call of the broader world even as they cling to each other ... Arudpragasam’s writing is exceptionally graceful, which allows the text to flow despite its density. The lack of action may frustrate some readers, but this structure creates an otherwise impossible narrative reverie. Ultimately, A Passage North is an elegant story whose discursive nature pays off.
Kirstin Valdez Quade
RaveBookpageIn three parts that unfold over the course of a year in the aptly named New Mexico town of Las Penas, The Five Wounds is a knife-sharp study of what happens to a family when accountability to other people goes out the window. Quade’s characters are experts at pushing love away, especially when intimate connection is most necessary ... As each member of the Padilla family battles their personal demons, hope shimmers like a mirage over everyday life, a sweet what-if that Quade expertly suspends above the text ... it is a treat to see the author’s exceptional command of pacing on display in a novel. Proof that what you say is just as important as how you say it, her precise lines are wanting in neither substance nor style, and her darkly hilarious, tender, gorgeous use of language is one of the crowning pleasures of the novel ... an irreverent 21st-century meditation on the restorative powers of empathy.
PositiveBookPage... not a novel that looks away from pain. Hashimi has taken an inventory of the toll childhood instability takes on a person’s emotional well-being ... Hashimi’s novel conveys its themes through a mix of frank and poetic language. Maxims from Aryana’s father operate as a bridge between past and present, which at times feels contrived given the first-person narration. Still, Aryana is an intriguing character who likens herself to Anastasia Romanov, whose disputed escape from her family’s political execution becomes a kind of obsession for Aryana ... an elegiac tribute to family and civilization—fragile collective entities that should be cherished while they still hold.
Claudia Hernández, trans. by Julia Sanches
PositiveBookPage... an ember of a novel. Originally published in Spanish, this restrained narrative about a mother’s sacrifice surges with hot undercurrents of danger and memory ... Ultimately, Slash and Burn is an unflinching meditation on girlhood and womanhood. The compañeras-in-arms within its pages ask few favors, preferring to toil with honor rather than fall prey to the disappointment of broken promises. In this slow burn, Hernández ferries her characters across oceans for the common purpose of finding home—an as-yet-unnamed possibility.