PositivePloughsharesThe entire novel is in the form of a monologue, and the narrator-protagonist addresses a courthouse presided over by a patient judge and the reader alternately. While the reader, who acts as the judge, and the judge, who acts as the reader, are directly implicated, Viel is not one to give things away hastily. His craft lies in the deliberate delay ... Kermeur’s crime makes him not an impetuous jerk, but a Nietzschean. That is the bigger point the novel is making, or trying to make. It is not about poetic justice, but artifice ... Viel’s power is in inverting the rationale of law, and in taunting those who are complicit in its finality. Article 353 is a subtle interrogation of the ways justice is conceived of and delivered. For Kermeur, after all, more than the rigors of the method, it is a matter of capricious fortune.
RavePloughsharesThe eleven stories in Good Trouble read like a string of understated poems that progress, implode, and digress. They are compelling not only because of Joseph O’Neill’s memorable characters but also because of his density and diction. He wields an acerbic blade, rendering the weird and violent with a determined frugality and control ... O’Neill resorts to the landscape with the abandon and felicity of a poet ... Generally, however, O’Neill is very much jostling the real world. His voice is funny and fierce, his concerns unforgivingly political and contemporary ... Good Trouble is an essential book, full of unexpected bursts of meaning and beauty.
RaveThe MillionsNeel Mukherjee’s third novel of five linked narratives, A State of Freedom, begins with a realistic story told not so realistically. Thematically, it does not remain within the bounds of the premise on which it is originally predicated: the clash of the cosmopolitan sensibility acquired in the West with the ways of modernizing India … Mukherjee’s achievement is in sustaining his characters, adrift in realms of stark disparity, in a style that is buoyant and effervescent. He is not daunted by the dereliction of his landscape … Mukherjee calls upon one corroded nation’s capacity for introspection, to cast a few visceral glances at the millions of lives battered daily.
Omar Robert Hamilton
RaveThe MillionsOmar Robert Hamilton’s debut novel, The City Always Wins, capturing Cairo in the convulsions of the revolution, brought back a bad memory of Srinagar ...the novel is not just an intimate act of witness to the outpourings of the people protesting in Tahrir Square and the military brutalities and massacres that followed; the novel’s strength lies rather in the moments that unfold within the quiet of houses rather than the roar of the street, for instance, when Khalil... Hamilton recreates chunks of Khalil’s beleaguered consciousness with the fidelity of an impressionist, and one’s knowledge of Khalil at the end is almost the same as it was at the beginning ... Khalil’s voice is interchangeable with the voice of other characters. It is the authorial voice that dominates and diminishes him. At times, the dialogue is too dramatic to be credible.