RaveThe Chicago Review of BooksFor me, as a musician, one mark of a great short story collection is when it operates somewhat like a great symphony: cast in distinct movements, moving through different moods, tonalities and orchestrations, but at some base level—whether heard or simply felt—motivically and thematically cohesive. Manywhere<, Morgan Thomas’ expansive and expressive debut collection, is this kind of book. Though the nine stories within it are not linked in character or plot, they are woven from the same cloth. Combining astute research, invention, and an endlessly imaginative inquisitiveness, taken together they create a rich tapestry of stories, each with its own vivid threadwork ... homas captures the visual, atmospheric, and emotional textures of life in the American South so vividly that you can’t imagine these characters existing anywhere else ... Thomas, in their own way, seems to take influence from Southern literature’s tendency to use mythic histories to provide models for how (or how not) to live. Here, there is queer mythmaking, but there is also historicization ... Throughout the collection, Thomas asserts themself as a writer of thematic breadth and imaginative depth. The writing, too, is consistently impressive: acerbic dialogue sits side by side with lyrical passages that almost read as prose poems. Metaphor and image are so cohesive within each story that each feels at once airtight and effortless. But it is as a storyteller, in the most literal sense, that Thomas finally triumphs. Their ear for vernacular, capability for invention, and sense of the nuances of human intimacy—particularly that more elusive intimacy with the contours of one’s own experience—make it no wonder that their characters are themselves such vivid storytellers ... a love letter to storytelling, to its capacity to challenge binaries and expectations and its capacity for malleability.
RaveLambda Literary\"... an expansive family saga enriched by brilliantly wrought characters and a dazzling lyricism ... Ahmed has made the bold and unique decision to frame the novel with Ishraaq, Seema’s unborn son, as its narrator, and the result yields a voice unlike almost any other narrator I’ve encountered. The choice allows Ahmed great flexibility with point of view ... Throughout the novel, Ahmed digs deep into his characters’ memories to enchantingly blend the past and present, while modulating the intricacies of their relationships with care and mastery ... Ahmed writes equally potently of estrangement ... Radiant Fugitives paints a broad portrait, at turns hopeful and despairing, of a family—and a country—testing its capacity for change.
RaveLambda Literary... a moving and memorable story of family, class, sexuality, and hope, filled with captivating, difficult characters ... Loneliness and melancholy fill the novel like damp air, but there are also moments of joy— glimpses of beauty and love in the brokenness— like several memorable scenes where Agnes turns on the radio and dances with Shuggie ... But Stuart shows us how deep the gulf between who we are inside and who we are when we face the world can become. When do our opportunities to reinvent ourselves run out? ... Stuart’s characters are so captivating, their humanity so richly realized, that we gaze into their inner selves fully and intimately. He approaches his serious subject with tenderness and compassion— powerful and palpable as the characters’ lives are in Stuart’s masterful treatment of them, we cannot help but take them into our hands.