MixedThe Atlantic\"An impressively expansive new biography by Mark Dery, Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey, attempts, often with success, to demystify the illustrator’s wide-ranging elusiveness ... To varying extents, the book and the exhibitions delve into both Gorey’s surrealism-influenced philosophy of art and into perhaps the ultimate puzzle of Gorey—the private life of the man himself ... One failing of Born to Be Posthumous is Dery’s repeated insistence on claiming Gorey was obviously gay by virtue of his \'flamboyant dress\' and \'bitchy wit\'; here, Dery falls into the trap of equating effeminacy with gay men, an archaic stereotype.\
RaveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksClever, cruel, hilarious, heartbreaking, and at times simply ingenious, Thompson-Spires’s experimental collection poses a simple, yet obviously not-simple, question: what does it mean to be a black American in this day and age? ... Thompson-Spires’s metafictional satires, oriented around questions of blackness, join a particular tradition of African-American fiction, recalling the sardonic absurdism of Everett’s Erasure and Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, among others ... Not all of Thompson-Spires’s stories are overtly satirical, and they become progressively more serious as the collection progresses, but a thread of outrageous, glaring self-awareness runs through the collection, granting even many of the more severe tales a tone of dark comedy ... Thompson-Spires, thankfully, depicts a wide range of people, not seeking either overwhelmingly positive or negative images of a race but capturing diversity — reality — in much of its multifarious beauty and terror ... The real heads, of course, as this brilliant collection of word paintings displays, can be on anybody’s bodies.
PositiveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksSenna’s voice and narrative are distinct and compelling. And her conflicted, white-passing, multiracial protagonist Maria is both a believable — if exasperating — figure and a partial but disquietingly accurate embodiment of the United States in 2017. How do we live in our own skin, the novel seems to ask, when it is living in our own skin that causes so much grief? ... New People is a paean to the psychosocial complexities of being racially mixed, and, as a result, color-lines, passing, and double-consciousness are everywhere ... A patron saint of the eternally conflicted, Maria is always in search of an identity, even if it means doing what is most demeaning and disgusting to her. A victim of double-consciousness, Maria is forever thinking of what others think of her ... The novel’s ultimate message seems to be one both true and unsettling, if unsurprising: that color-lines have never left America and likely never will, and that those of us who walk between the lines may always be tormented, always followed by something dusky and doubtful we cannot quite catch sight of.
Pajtim Statovci, Trans. by David Hackston
PositiveThe New YorkerMy Cat Yugoslavia draws on this compounded experience of exile to tell two parallel stories; it reads as a life reflected by flawed and foggy mirrors ... My Cat Yugoslavia is spry and warm at first, but it hardens, becoming emotionally icier, until Bekim and his mother reach parallel breaking points...This chilliness put me off at first; the novel’s coldness made me feel cold to it. But, as I kept reading, its mood and style began to make sense. The novel is a slowly shattering and re-forming reflection of the protagonists’ corresponding descents into wintry numbness, until, near the end, they begin to revive, and to love ... Statovci’s surreal, arresting novel suggests that we must look anyway, and that love and identity have many reflections, many destinies, many languages. Sometimes, a broken mirror reflects something truer—as does the kind of love, drawn from the deepest sunken places, that tries to put it back together.