Ilana Masad is an Israeli-American writer, reviewer, editor, and proofreader/copy editor living in New York City. She is a freelance writer for a variety of publications such as Broadly, Electric Literature, Read It Forward, and more, and in 2015 launched the podcast The Other Stories. She can be found on Twitter @ilanaslightly
RaveNPR\"It\'s the kind of book that reminds you of nights—and they are somehow always nights—when you discussed Big Concepts like Life and the Universe and Reality with your friends, and fell asleep with your mind gently buzzing ... But the novel isn\'t all wordplay and clever conceit—it has a true heart, and many of the characters are achingly full of pathos ... Whatever your jam is—mind-bending logic, beautiful, lyrical writing, or a deep dive into contemporary life—there is something brilliant here for everyone.\
RaveNPR\"... the collection is intent on recognizing what masculinity looks like, questioning our expectations of it, and criticizing its toxicity — and somehow managing to do all of that with love ... There\'s a fine line between outright, blatant, or malicious sexism and this more comfortable, seemingly less offensive place where men are merely ignorant of the ways they take possession of women — their looks, their labor, their humanity. And this is the line Brinkley knows how to straddle, creating fully formed characters who wrestle with what they think they have a right to ... And while it\'s clearly a topic that concerns him, Brinkley\'s book isn\'t only about masculinity. It also deals in family relationships, love, aging, loss, and disappointment — the universal themes that keep us coming back to literature — while also conveying versions of black male experience. In fact, the collection may include only nine stories, but in each of them, Brinkley gives us an entire world.\
RaveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksAnxious, whimsical, and deeply felt, Ausubel’s stories weave a remarkable and beautiful tapestry of emotion ... they deemphasize the presumed centrality and greatness of the United States in favor of a more global view of the world ... Over and over again, characters underestimate and misunderstand lands not their own, and always they are humbled by those spaces, by the un-Americanness of it all. Throughout, Ausubel’s irony-tinged third-person narration conveys the limitations of her characters’ simplistic beliefs ... Ausubel’s signature ability to create atmosphere is in full force throughout Awayland ... By also touching upon social and political issues, she adds a new layer to her work that invites readers to move away from their comfort zones as well.
RaveThe Los Angeles TimesThis kind of drama is quiet and subtle, but Raeff knows how to wield her words in this space, and makes small pronouncements devastating ... Indeed, one of the most remarkable things about the novel is how quiet it is, and how much respectful space Raeff allows her characters. While their inner thoughts and feelings are sometimes conveyed in a sentence or two, as above, Raeff largely documents these without dwelling there. This isn't a book obsessed with its people's thoughts, and there are no long paragraphs of internal monologues. Instead, these characters are in the thick of their lives, and Raeff shows us their fullness in quick sketches, the way a skilled artist may convey movement and attitude with only a few penciled lines.
RaveThe Los Angeles Times...a beautiful example of possibility, nuance and passion coexisting, even in our heightened political moment ... The focus of these points of tension is the way our society treats black women as inhuman, their bodies consumable or publicly available. Jerkins allows her lens to go deep into contemporary culture, with her essays almost free-associating at times ... there is a brutal honesty Jerkins brings to the experiences of black girls and women that is vital for us to understand as we strive toward equality, toward believing women's voices and experiences, and toward repairing the broken systems that have long defined our country.
László Krasznahorkai, Trans. by George Szirtes, Ottilie Mulzet & John Batki
RaveNPRThe World Goes On, while it features an array of disheartening narratives, feels more like a celebration of tiny moments of odd, inexplicable joy ... There is a lot of wandering in The World Goes On. Men — and they do seem to always be men — get drunk and lost, get obsessed with conspiracy theories, paint women like valleys in an attempt to return to their own homes and mothers, and almost always monologue for pages and pages in endless run-on sentences. But there are moments of light and joy within the ramblings of these apparent madmen ... Reading The World Goes On is like accidentally getting on the wrong train — the writing style pulls you inexorably on, and you never quite know where you'll end up. Whether you want to stay on or get off remains your choice.
MixedElectric LiteratureHere, in my estimation, is what the book is about, at its core: it is about terrible, terrible love … In between the extremes of aggression and surrender lies the muddy space of compromise, which Englander seems like he wants to explore through a romance between an Israeli and a Palestinian. But though their existence is interesting?—?intelligence operatives but for opposing sides, both admits in conversation to their own side’s failings and wonders how they’ll be able to bridge the gap between them?—?the characters themselves aren’t really fully developed. They’re placeholders for ideology more than they are people. The implication, whether intended or not, is that compromise is indeed the least understood space in this conflict, the most romanticized yet least practiced.
RaveThe Los Angeles TimesThe Mountain, is not what you’d call delightful — the stories are sober and the prose is quiet, yet in that is the howling of the human condition that makes the best short fiction stand out ... This is where much of the drama in these stories occurs: rippling, under the surface, in that quiet desperation for safety. While the stories are seemingly quiet, they are all set against the backdrop of violence, from World War II to present-day fights for independence and confusing acts of terrorism ... The stories in The Mountain are linked through key themes as well as a somewhat overemphasized use of shared images. The moon, a bicycle, a horse that is taken for a ghost or a living statue, company names with the word ;Sunshine' in them: For close readers, these shared images and character backgrounds may be a little on the nose, a little forced. This is a small grievance, though, in what is ultimately a fantastic collection.
PositiveNPRHesse doesn't provide a satisfying simple answer. Instead, she gives us a truth according to Charlie, Accomack county firefighters, transcripts of 911 calls — in other words, a truth that is messy and nuanced, complex, and sometimes contradictory ... thankfully Hesse doesn't spend too much time using the fires as a metaphor for the larger Rust Belt. While she does allow herself to generalize occasionally, she mostly focuses on this particular place, its people, and its story. What emerges is a vivid depiction of a community that is struggling economically in present-day America, but is rich in its human connections.
RaveThe Portland Press Herald[I became] engrossed in its haunting pages ... the way Chaffee writes Hannah’s eating disorder cuts to the core of the psychology that is rarely the focus of eating disorder narratives, even though it is at the center of so many eating disorders themselves ... Society’s fixation on unrealistic bodies does not help, but eating disorders are broader, wider and deeper, and Jessie Chaffee succeeds admirably in mining them as she depicts a woman’s journey away from her earthly self – and then back again.
RaveThe Los Angeles Review of Books...this is not a novel of refugees, of tent cities or starvation. Instead, it is a novel that examines the middle class and the very real pain that the loss of home has even on the privileged ... In many ways, then, this is a novel about privilege. Alyan takes groups we often see as disadvantaged, demonstrates their advantages, but shows us that privilege is still relative, and that trauma can still be experienced within such constructs ... Alyan is doing important work through this novel, even without the discussion of these deeper meanings. Thus, Salt Houses can be read very simply as a family drama, proving Alyan’s talent as a master of both the family drama genre as well as the depths and complexities of the Palestinian displacement.
Patty Yumi Cottrell
PositiveThe San Francisco ChronicleSorry to Disrupt the Peace, is a strange and lovely thing ... Cottrell fills every page with an impossible-to-ignore voice, characterized by its idiosyncrasies and intelligence ... her brother’s ultimately plain, simple life eludes her grasp, as he slipped away rather quietly and neatly from her and their adoptive parents. Instead of the distress of the suicidal, we see that of the surviving.
PositiveThe Washington PostDeepak Unnikrishnan’s new novel is made even more moving by the author’s statement about writing it: 'Temporary People is a work of fiction set in the UAE, where I was raised and where foreign nationals constitute over 80 percent of the population. It is a nation built by people who are eventually required to leave' ... There is nothing comfortable about Unnikrishnan’s Temporary People, but it is challenging, thought-provoking and timely.
RaveElectric LiteratureThe stories in Alexandra Kleeman’s new collection, Intimations, both distressingly and beautifully convey a different message: there is no escape ... [Kleeman] manages to both draw us entirely into her fiction and keep us at a distance, as spectators glancing through a window or walking through the stories like ghosts able to walk through walls.
PositiveElectric LiteratureWhat Annie DeWitt does best in this book is center you in each moment ... More than a novel of plot, this is an atmospheric book, one that reads somehow like a Southern novel though it is set in New England ... there is a search for adolescence here from a woman who is both a teenager and a grown-up at the same time, and it is a marvelous, beautiful, and painful journey.
PositiveElectric LiteratureI’m Thinking of Ending Things is being marketed as 'The Psychological Thriller of the Summer'?—?this is wonderful in terms of getting the book a wider readership than it may have gotten if it were marketed some other way, but the fact is that the book’s thriller aspects are almost a kind of gloss to the deeper, far more uncomfortable positions to which it places the reader...It has thriller elements for certain, but they don’t mask the questions the novel poses. On the contrary, they serve as enhancements ... he mind of the narrator is not a safe place. It is incredibly intelligent, and incredibly lonely. Read with capital-C-worthy Caution ... While the ending of the novel was somewhat disappointing, the journey was ultimately more than worth it.
RaveBustleA Little Life explores just what the title implies — the little bits of the little lives, so big when looked at close up, of four characters who live together in college and keep alive their friendship for decades after … Because they are so alive on the page, it is a joy to live alongside them. But because they are also so self-aware, so often confused and self-loathing and anxious, it can also be a torment … The level of abuse Jude has undergone and the amount of success his friends attain over the course of the novel's three decades is almost too amazing to be entirely believable, but it doesn’t matter.
RaveElectric Literature...a beautiful, brilliant, evocative collection of (somewhat) linked short stories...We need more books like Oyeyemi’s; to challenge us, to make us think, and to remind us that it is all right, sometimes, not to know all the answers to the riddles that plague us.
RaveElectric LiteratureA masterful work of literature that is also a page-turning dramatic family saga, Yun’s first book had better be as successful as it reads.
RaveElectric LiteratureThe urgency with which Chee has Liliet telling her tales, while continually creating a bait and switch narrative in which she yanks away knowledge at crucial moments only to come back to them later, keeps the reader off balance, racing through the pages without any possibility of stopping for fear of falling flat. It is that kind of novel, the kind one devours in a weekend or stays up too late reading.