PositiveFull StopThough it is written in the third person, the prose of Three Strong Women rarely transcends the muddled perspectives of each section’s main character. Key information arrives late or not at all, making the story itself sometimes difficult to follow ... NDiaye’s meandering and languid prose style perfectly suits her plot. In the novel, as well as in the characters’ minds, what has happened before becomes interwoven with forgetfulness and conflicting memories. In its translation to English, translator John Fletcher occasionally loses the subtle momentum that French so easily maintains, falling instead into a mire of clause-ridden, sluggish paragraphs. Yet the novel, which initially evades its reader by never offering enough information for full understanding, becomes vivid with the wrenching conclusion of its final storyline ... At times exhaustingly tangled in the depressed and circular thoughts of its characters, Three Strong Women nevertheless concludes with unanticipated connection and meaning, even as complete understanding and success for its characters remain illusory.
RaveFull StopLai’s book joins the ranks of dystopian novels such as Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, while also finding its voice through the dizzying wordplay characteristic of Lai’s poetry ... Lai repeatedly asks readers to consider whether someone who no longer has a body is still human. And, indeed, to wonder how we who are still in the flesh can trust that the upload has indeed taken place successfully ... Lai’s questions are not new ones for the speculative fiction genre, but her queer feminist approach offers new paths to exploring their answers. Unlike many more fully luddite dystopias, The Tiger Flu contrasts its blatant wariness for capitalist technology’s encroachment into our minds with a surprising empathy for those characters who employ cloning in order to survive ... The Tiger Flu’s exploration of transhumanism is terrifying, whimsical, and gripping.
RaveFull StopHwang Sok-Yong’s novel presents a blunt portrayal of the marginalized lives of those who live on Flower Island, a once fertile place that has become the landfill for a nearby city ... But the transition to life on Flower Island does not only offer horror. Familiar Things makes clear the degree to which life as a garbage scavenger offers Bugeye and his mother a modicum of independence and dignity in comparison to the other options available to them ... Although Hwang Sok-Yong describes a world that is terrible to imagine, he does not fetishize it. Monstrous events occur, but the descriptions do not revel in the graphic details such that they become offensively gratuitous. Familiar Things’ language is simple. It does not linger in metaphor or unusual turns of phrase. Sora Kim-Russell’s translation feels unstilted and easy. The novel’s uncomplicated style suits its purpose, presenting determined existence rather than romanticized horror. The plain prose also conveys the great sadness of the novel without becoming saccharine ... Familiar Things challenges readers to see everyday objects in an alternate light, while also understanding that this life of scavenging is a familiar one for many people.