PositiveThe Washington PostAbsorbing ... A fast-paced detective adventure ... Delaney, Bern and Eboni are all entertaining, but Josephine emerges as singularly intriguing ... Though Josephine’s mindscape is fascinating, Slocumb doesn’t quite succeed in taking us inside it. The conventional narration he gives her barely suggests a kaleidoscopic mind’s sensory magic. But Slocumb seems less interested in psychological probing than a steady-paced adventure ... Amid the heart-racing plot, Symphony of Secrets is ultimately an affirmation.
RaveThe Washington PostHe adroitly intertwines the eerie fairy tale with early 20th-century historical realism ... LaValle subtly links Lone Women to an African American literary storyline envisioning a woman who unshackles herself from a societal yoke long weighed upon her. By replanting this narrative with small-town Southern roots into a Western self-reliance tale, while mixing in the deranged, the author has fashioned an eccentrically satisfying literary mash-up.
RaveLos Angeles Review of Books... richly layered ... complex ... The novel careens magically across the American landscape, shifting ingeniously between literary styles as it charts the trail of impaired loves in these two uprooted families ... The sweetness of the Caribbean-based mother and daughter romantic narratives (humorously diluted by their compulsive swearing) differs strikingly in tone and style from the earlier sections that trace Fly’s family history, as though these two families inhabit emotionally and spiritually separate worlds. The first chapter is an edgy satire on race, religion, and sex, with a slightly fantastical and apocalyptic overlay ... The novel’s tone, style, and point of view constantly shift, with no two of the dozen chapters having quite the same narrative voice ... The shifts are sometimes jarring and that is exactly the point. The fragmented architecture is yet another strategy to create dislocation, a form that mirrors the fractured and stunted loves of the two families and the nonlinear path that brings them together. In a lesser author’s hands, the project could feel forced and fragmented, but Yanique brilliantly unifies the novel through her scintillating, consistently lyrical language, whether using lampoon, introspection, or tense social drama.
MixedThe Washington PostLife of a Klansman implicitly asks how White Americans can meaningfully confront their relationship to enduring white supremacy, whether they are directly tied to enslavers or terrorists, as Ball is, or linked less detectably by reaping the inescapable benefits of a deeply embedded racial privilege that is slavery’s lasting consequence ... Ball succeeds in the delicate task of conveying empathy for Lecorgne while expressing his utter repulsion ... Ball uses...[a] paraphrasing approach inventively to enter the minds of various White figures, though at times he transitions confusingly between these voices and his own historical narration. The book’s most compelling character is not Lecorgne but New Orleans itself, culturally and racially layered ... Throughout, he writes to a White audience, using the pronoun \'we\' ... While Ball may be well-intentioned in using this language to challenge those who might identify with his burdened past, because he does not explicitly acknowledge this audience selection, he effectively disregards readers of color, as though they presumably wouldn’t choose to engage the history of White terrorism or a White writer who grapples with his relation to it ... Ball doesn’t ultimately connect Lecorgne and the systemic racism he embodies with contemporary white supremacy ... Life of a Klansman is valuable as a self-searching profile of ancestral atrocity. But without confronting America’s present-day white-supremacist severities, Ball ultimately lands softly on the bloody terrain.