RaveSan Francisco Chronicle\"... shattering, indispensable ... Reading [this memoir] will change you, perhaps forever ... [Forché] offers not only her harrowing outer journey through a brutal and wounded country, but also her inner resolve to find words for the unspeakable ... Thanks to Forché’s monumental gifts, the excruciating struggle between brutality and dignity must be faced even now.\
Ingrid Rojas Contreras
RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleFruit of the Drunken Tree is one of the most dazzling and devastating novels I’ve read in a long time ... Rojas Contreras, in this vividly imagined and deeply researched book, renders in breathtaking specificity the humanity of each singular participant—whether perpetrator or bystander, betrayer or betrayed ... By the end of this unforgettable book, we understand that what these two young women have endured, both separately and together, will continue to haunt them, together and separately. Readers of Fruit of the Drunken Tree will surely be transformed by the imprints of the journeys Rojas Contreras’ characters undertake; their escape routes include flights of imagination as well as involuntary amnesia. In the best of fiction as in the worst of life, we are given the opportunity to empathize with the suffering of others and to find inspiration in the grace of their resilience.
PositiveThe San Francisco ChronicleWhat We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, Englander's second book of stories, deserves high praise. It's audacious and idiosyncratic, darkly clever and brightly faceted. The title story alone is worth the price of admission, as is the complex tale of mercy and mercilessness that completes the volume, ‘Free Fruit for Young Widows’ … Englander balances caustic despair alongside absurdist epiphany. The result is a high-wire act: brilliant acrobatics at best, and some disappointing crash landings at worst … The weakest pieces in this book are ‘Peep Show’ and ‘The Reader’ and ‘Everything I Know About My Family on My Mother's Side.’ Each gives the impression of being engineered by gimmick rather than achieved through careful evolution. But who's complaining? By the time you finish reading, you may find yourself wanting to revisit Carver, to listen for that voice shadowing Englander's.
RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleIn the necessary and uncomfortable places where Rene Denfeld locates her haunting fiction, the lines between victim and perpetrator can be painfully blurry...Denfeld insists that urgent stories exist on the extreme margins of our lives, especially when they depict those whom most of society would prefer to erase forever. Adding a tincture of the fantastical into a beaker of reality, Denfeld’s writing swirls and darkens; yet, just as often, tragedy blends and brightens with optimism … What’s here is the unmistakable evidence of harm, as well as the endeavor to understand how and why it recurs. For Denfeld, and for her readers, questions of innocence and guilt aren’t limited to a courtroom or a prison … This exquisite, gracefully imagined novel brings nuanced empathy to that tragic zone in which victims of pedophilia can grow up to become perpetrators as adults.
RaveThe San Francisco Chroniclewhile serving up a dramatic centerpiece full of secrets and power struggles. Its scope is vast, even though its most remarkable creations can be held in the palm of a woman’s hand … One of the greatest achievements of this ambitious novel has to do with its simultaneous focus on intimate detail and universal observation. The characters wrestle with inner demons at the same time that they are engaged in a battle for physical and cultural survival; personal betrayals and redemptions reflect large-scale conquests in commerce and ideology. We even get a glimpse of the Dutch East India Company as the first-ever multinational corporation, financed by shares that established the first modern stock exchange.
PanThe San Francisco ChronicleOne danger lies in the exploitation of horror, the artifice involved in a novelist’s straining toward language, attempting to prove its vividness in the face of extremity. The result, in the case of Mischling, is a failure of honesty, a failure (dare I say) of humility. Instead, we see the writer pointing toward herself ... Although there are plenty of lucid images throughout the novel, there are too many others that approach near-meaninglessness.
RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleIn this dazzlingly wide-ranging collection, he draws an insightful map of literal and metaphoric inter-connections. Even while discussing one creative form, it’s clear he could be defining himself as well as the world.
RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleFor readers who prefer literary fiction liberally dosed with absurdity and insight, exclamation points and philosophy, foibles and traumas, Elizabeth McKenzie’s novel The Portable Veblen is a wild ride that you will not want to miss.