RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewKillens’s Africa is a caricature that might, in other circumstances, be irritating. But The Minister Primarily isn’t a book about Africa. It’s about America, and the author has a lot to say about his homeland ... Killens has read his Shakespeare. With the surprises in its plot and its quadrilles of mistaken identities, The Minister Primarily is right up there with The Tempest and The Comedy of Errors. The choreography of his set pieces has an effulgent warmth that is as passionately expressed as it is disarming, creeping up on the reader with such skill you hardly realize you’re being stalked by a master. Killens’s writing about sex, of which there is a lot, both of the emotional tsunami kind and of the nothing-but-lust kind, should be used in creative writing courses across the country ... There is a generous contouring to his love for African America that is filled with pride. But the most powerful message that Killens has to impart is that lessons come in all shapes and sizes. Humor and satire are often more powerful than sermons or political finger-wagging. The Minister Primarily probably could not be written today. Amid the increasingly toxic discourse about race and politics, we have forgotten what we ever learned about laughter being the best medicine. More’s the pity.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... abounds with stories like that of Rahila, the suicide bombing school dropout. Quietly listening, Searcey takes down the details of their everyday experience — including details the authorities around her might prefer were not made public. In doing so, she reveals herself to be, even today, one of the “disobedient women,” bearing witness to so many ordinary lives tossed and turned by other people’s whims.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe political implications of The Fishermen are obvious, though never overstated. Countries can take a wrong turn, Obioma suggests, just as people can ... As things fall apart and the family’s center cannot hold, Obioma’s readers will begin to recall another work of fiction from Africa, a book that, after more than half a century, has never been out of print. In his exploration of the mysterious and the murderous, of the terrors that can take hold of the human mind, of the colors of life in Africa, with its vibrant fabrics and its trees laden with fruit, and most of all in his ability to create dramatic tension in this most human of African stories, Chigozie Obioma truly is the heir to Chinua Achebe.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewA word of advice. To fully appreciate Travel Light, Move Fast, the fourth volume of Alexandra Fuller’s lacerating portrait of her family, you need to start on Page 213. In an epilogue to the main tale, Fuller informs the reader that during the two years and three months after her father died, she lost everything she assumed she’d love forever ... In Travel Light, Move Fast, the author draws [her father] to center stage — and shows how essential his love and lightheartedness were to their survival ... In the grief-filled days that lay ahead, his family would remember his memorial service and, amid the tears, would laugh out loud. As Fuller shows in this beautifully written and deeply loving portrait, laughing and crying are such a huge part of life.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review\"Braithwaite writes in a rat-a-tat style that forces the plot along at a clip ... My Sister, the Serial Killer is a bombshell of a book — sharp, explosive, hilarious. With a deadly aim, Braithwaite lobs jokes, japes and screwball comedy at the reader. Only after you turn the last page do you realize that, as with many brilliant comic writers before her, laughter for Braithwaite is as good for covering up pain as bleach is for masking the smell of blood.\