RaveThe Washington PostAs Leith navigates the war-haunted terrains of Asia, Hazzard interweaves poetic reminiscence with an almost documentary directness, informing us of Leith's past, vicissitudes of family and romance, his wartime nightmares and philosophical disquisitions … Throughout The Great Fire, Hazzard exacts a perfect sense of verisimilitude. For instance, a reader truly comprehends, almost physically, how time passes, whether in the transit of a letter or a ship, certainly in the act of waiting. Waiting at the radio for news. Waiting for the war to end. Waiting for life to begin again. Yet Hazzard does not antique her prose with nostalgia but rather lets us experience quotidian life or dramatic events with vivid immediacy. Hazzard, in other words, is an ‘old-fashioned’ writer; her transitions of plot are seamless rather than choppily cinematic, every page a deep pleasure to read.
RaveThe Washington PostAnn Beattie yet again reveals herself as one of literature’s most liberating figures. Book after book, her writing affirms a beguiling originality ... With shrewd empathy and a Geiger counter ear for dialogue, Beattie sounds the grace notes — and the fall-from-grace notes — of her characters’ lives ... When I read Beattie’s stories, I think of Chekhov’s; when I read Chekhov’s stories, I think of Beattie’s. Both are writers for the ages. Chekhov suggested that every day imposes a precarious mood, and we either submit to the point of damage, or we struggle to transcend it, trying to gain some equilibrium, and even discover a little happiness. Beattie’s characters can be adept at both. She is one of our few contemporary masters of storytelling.
RaveThe Washinton PostIn Other Words is the most evocative, unpretentious, astute account of a writing life I have read. In part, this is because Lahiri so unabashedly asks and answers big and vexing questions: 'Why do I write? To investigate the mystery of existence. To tolerate myself. To get closer to everything that is outside of me.'