RaveBookPageThe most notable aspect of My Government Means to Kill Me is the presence of historical figures at key points in the story...Newson weaves important civil rights and LGBTQ+ activists such as Dorothy Cotton and Larry Kramer into the narrative to bolster Trey\'s development...As Trey becomes a founding member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), readers get a glimpse into the rich and boisterous political environment of the \'80s...Newsom balances these moments of representation and recognition with appearances from more nefarious figures like \'racist slumlord\' Fred Trump, who tries to evict Trey and his friends from their home...Newson capitalizes on the many powers of historical fiction while ensuring that Trey\'s story never becomes stuffy or predictable...My Government Means to Kill Me is proof that writers can revere and play with history at the same time.
RaveBookPageHokeah\'s prose is punchy and descriptive, filled with Native American phrases and words that come naturally to the characters. This blending of languages is still uncommon in contemporary fiction, but the current Indigenous literary and cultural renaissance promises that more and more voices will grow this singularity into a rich multitude.
PositiveBookPage... energetic ... filled with personality as Albert merges questions of fame and fertility into a thought-provoking exploration of agency and expression. Aviva\'s musicianship gives Albert\'s prose a distinct rhythm: It\'s fast and sweet, with enough attitude to put Sleater-Kinney or even Lizzo to shame. Aviva\'s characterization as a young bohemian fosters pop culture references aplenty, and this becomes a central aspect in the plot as her obsession with Amy Winehouse transforms from innocent worship to a near loss of self ... an emotional, life-affirming howl into a wild world.
PositiveBookPageNatera’s writing style is detailed and intimate but leaves plenty to the imagination. The mother-daughter dynamic propels the novel and creates its dramatic tension, but Natera also includes interludes from the Tongues, the blabbermouth neighborhood chismosas, or gossips, who hear everything and know everything. Through these voices, Natera’s depiction of Northar Park becomes lively and vibrant, which brings the reader back to the novel’s central focus: home. As the Guerreros’ dreams shift—Lux desires an Upper West Side apartment, and Vladimir hopes for a new house in the Dominican Republic—the reader is encouraged to ask what home really is. Is it a place? A peace? Neruda on the Park doesn’t give answers but rather lets the reader and the Guerrero family decide for themselves.
Camila Sosa Villada tr. Kit Maude
RaveBookPage... captures the beauty, wonder and danger in the lives of travestis, a Spanish term that has been re-appropriated to empower trans women ... reads like a fairy tale but still connects strongly with corporeal aspects of trans experiences. Villada writes in an arrestingly poetic voice, often leaning on ancient Greek allusions to give her prose a mythic feeling. She introduces each character and their backstory like picking petals from a flower—lovingly and painfully, with dreamy care ... Latin America has a rich trans tradition, in both the art and activism realms, and with Bad Girls, Villada joins the ranks of the greats. With nods to Argentine trans icons such as actor Cris Miró and activist Claudia Pía Baudracco, Villada weaves Bad Girls into the world of Latin American trans life. Just as artists like Venezuelan musician Arca have shown what the Latin American trans community can offer music, Villada shows how much a travesti can offer the field of literature. The promise is great, and on every page, Villada delivers.
PositiveBookPageFrom the intimacy of sexuality to the vastness of cityscapes, Osunde gives the reader a clear picture of the messy collision courses that are our lives ... Osunde’s devotion to exploring individual human lives is balanced by a notably divine focus in sections about Èkó, a mythical figure and synecdoche for the masses. Through Èkó, the reader is led to understand the relationship between the public and the godly: When people come together, even unconsciously, they create a divine power. In humanizing this power, Osunde shows how each of her characters is part of something much larger than themselves—which is, in both the biblical and laical senses, awesome ... Osunde reveals people loving and fighting in their bid to design the world together.
María Ospina tr. Heather Cleary
RaveBookPage... powerful ... undoubtedly timely as a poignant portrait of people on the margins whose bodies are trapped in space and time. While that may sound like science fiction, Ospina shows how real these experiences are, and she challenges everyone to empathize.
Honoree Fanonne Jeffers
RaveBookPageJeffers weaves an epic ancestral story, showing that where any one person comes from is much more complicated than charts and graphs ... From slavery to freedom, discrimination to justice, tradition to unorthodoxy, this story covers large parts of not just of Ailey’s heritage but also America’s. It’s the kind of familial epic that many Americans, particularly African Americans, can relate to, as Jeffers limns this family’s story with the trauma, faults and passions that we all harbor. Her masterful treatment of the characters and their relationships, paired with the thorough and engaging way the narrative is laid out, makes for a book that is easy to invest and get lost in—a feat for such a long, intricate work. Best yet, the novel incorporates the words of W.E.B. Du Bois throughout its 800-plus pages; those words are the story’s spine, its beating heart, its very life force ... Comparisons to Toni Morrison are bound to be made and will be apt in most cases, as this novel feels as important as many of Morrison’s. The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois earns its place among such company, as Jeffers engages with and builds upon the legacy of African American literature as carefully and masterfully as she does the narrative of Ailey’s family.
Mieko Kawakami, tr. David Boyd and Sam Bett
PositiveBookPageA large part of the narrative is devoted to the excruciating details of Eyes’ and Kojima’s abuse. When Eyes is forced to eat scraps of food from a rabbit cage, readers feel both his anguish and his helplessness at the hands of his classmates. Some readers may categorize these unsparing scenes as trauma porn, but the heart of the book lies in its examination of these events ... While Kawakami refuses to give us answers, the elegance and care with which she describes her characters’ lives invite the reader to ask such questions of themselves. This is not a cruel story, but rather one that understands hurt and pain for what it is: universal, unjust and material for new life.
RaveBookPageWhile the novel’s interwoven voices and oral history format will undoubtedly draw comparisons to Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones & The Six, a more apt comparison would be to Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad, as its perspective makes it both timely and prescient ... Music is at the heart of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, and Walton makes us love these musicians in the same way that we love our favorite bands. She uses this love to dig deeper, grappling with racism and other sinister themes to reveal the true essence of rock ’n’ roll ... Using music to cope is glorious and human, and Walton doesn’t just cope—she triumphs.
Haruki Murakami, Trans. by Philip Gabriel
PositiveBookPageYou can’t have a conversation about literary fiction of the past 50 years without mentioning Haruki Murakami, and First Person Singular reminds us why ... By distorting reality, the author creates a special closeness to his audience, and he acknowledges this relationship with intelligence and grace ... the older Murakami seems more intelligent and compassionate. With this collection, Murakami leverages his position as an aging man in a rapidly changing world to set an example for others: Your perspective should never stay the same, and your writing must grow until it can’t fit its container.
PositiveBookPageEvening spins a complicated web of loving, twisted relationships in which the ties that bind are weakening and there is no center ... She limns the emotion of every action, cutting straight to the heart. Eve’s inner life is on full display, but the novel’s real drama and magic comes from Eve’s relationships with others.
PositiveBookPage... alive with desire and rich with history, and White’s love for his characters is infectious ... Both sides of the story are moving, emotionally tortuous and prurient, highlighted by White’s subtle and tender prose ... explores the deep trenches of each woman’s struggle, and we are forced to consider the differences between worldly and heavenly desire, though one may realize that perhaps there aren’t that many. In this book, love is shapeless and nameless, though its effects can be staggering.
PositiveBookPageTenorio, himself a Filipino immigrant, accurately and compassionately portrays the immigrant experience. From Excel’s and Maxima’s daily struggles for money to their fierce if unexpressed loyalty to one another, The Son of Good Fortune captures the lived experience of many new Americans ... Despite it universality, The Son of Good Fortune doesn’t lack for originality. With the whimsical excitement of Hello City and the craftiness of Maxima’s online schemes, the story finds a witty voice and sets a unique tone. Despite the drudgery and harshness of immigrant life, Tenorio explores the humanity in the tribulations and creates characters who are as lovable as they are real ... With his debut novel, Tenorio excavates joy from the immigrant experience, though he does his best not to diminish the suffering. If you cannot relate to this story, you can certainly learn from it.