RaveThe New York Times Book Review... the strangeness is never forced, the surrealism always grounded in recognizable emotion and experience ... Russell excels at a kind of creeping, low-level horror ... Russell’s particular gift lies in taking themes that are close to universal and presenting them in stories whose strangeness comes to seem entirely natural, even necessary. Aside from their fantastical elements, these stories are united by Russell’s willingness to engage deeply with darkness and by her penchant for unexpected endings. This is no small thing ... in Russell’s short stories nothing is inevitable. She has impeccable command of her form.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewTamirat has an excellent eye for the minor detail that becomes important in retrospect ... Tamirat is equally gifted at a strain of absurdism that’s delightfully reminiscent of both Kafka and Jonathan Lethem ... Tamirat is an extremely talented writer. Her prose is sharp, incisive and often very funny. There are dazzling passages. But as a novel, The Parking Lot Attendant suffers from an oddly under-edited quality. There are distracting incongruities throughout, sentences that work perfectly well on their own but serve to undermine aspects of character development or plot, and thus the overall cohesion of the novel ... Given the author’s obvious talent and the frequent brilliance of her prose, it’s frustrating to contemplate how much sharper this novel might have been with another round or two of editing. A compensation for readers is that Tamirat is at the beginning of her career, and there’s every reason to expect a truly dazzling body of work.
PositiveThe MillionsOnce again Cronin has superbly handled the difficult task of writing a character-driven adventure story. But whereas The Passage concerned itself primarily with the dynamic of good people struggling to survive a world infested with bad monsters, The Twelve focuses largely on an aspect of the apocalypse that Cronin touched on only lightly in the first installment: the vampires remain terrifying, but they’re arguably less terrifying than the humans who have decided to collaborate with them in order to survive … A surprise of The Twelve is that Cronin continues to move the narrative back and forth in time, from the shock of the initial outbreak to the depopulated wasteland that exists a century later. This has the dual effect of allowing him to further fill out a rich and complex back-story and also to rather neatly address one of the major criticisms of the first book.
RaveThe GuardianAll of Krauss’s favourite themes and preoccupations are here: memory, solitude, the inner life of an elderly Jewish man, the meditations on Israel and on what it means to be Jewish in the homeland and in the diaspora. We’re reminded, reading them, why she’s so often spoken of in the same breath as Philip Roth ... But Krauss has opted for something much more interesting, and the novel that emerges is a book of mirrors, a dazzling and fascinating meditation on fiction itself, and on doubleness and echoes ... There have been a great many novels about writing novels and it’s a difficult trick to pull off, but it’s testament to Krauss’s formidable skill as a writer that this one feels entirely original. This isn’t to suggest perfection: the narrative momentum grinds to a halt for a while following Nicole’s arrival in Tel Aviv, during an extended meditation on Kafka that veers dangerously close to an academic essay. But there’s no such thing as a perfect novel, any more than there’s such a thing as a perfect life. One of the great pleasures of reading a writer’s body of work lies in seeing the progression from one book to the next, and Forest Dark finds Krauss at the top of her game. It is blazingly intelligent, elegantly written and a remarkable achievement.
MixedThe New York Times Book Review...the decision to stage The Tempest within Hag-Seed can be read as something of a failure of imagination on Atwood’s part. It also marks an unfortunate transition. The novel to this point is a marvel of gorgeous yet economical prose, in the service of a story that’s utterly heartbreaking yet pierced by humor, with a plot that retains considerable subtlety even as the original’s back story falls neatly into place. But the prison production of The Tempest leads to some of the book’s clunkiest elements ... Hag-Seed is at its eerie, enchanting best when Atwood dwells on Felix’s relationship with his lost daughter.
Claire Vaye Watkins
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...one of the most interesting aspects of Watkins’s novel is the way the mode of apocalypse she’s chosen seems to mirror some of the darker aspects of celebrity ... The plot that Watkins comes up with — a love triangle, a seemingly idyllic community with a creepy secret — does not always match the originality of her prose ... But if this book is sometimes frustrating, it’s also fascinating. A great pleasure of the book is Watkins’s fearlessness, particularly in giving her characters free rein to be themselves.