PositiveThe A.V. ClubWang writes Joan’s exterior as cool and removed, and much of the novel’s wry humor comes from her seemingly muted emotions ... Joan resists sentimentalizing the death of her father and her fractured relationship with her family. And Wang masterfully manages this emotional landscape on the page. Moments of vulnerability are crowded by Joan’s monologues on sitcoms, the medical field, the suburbs, and life support machines ... On the surface, these quick shifts from thoughtful reflection to seemingly arbitrary dialogue suggest Joan uses deflection to keep from grieving.
RaveA.V. ClubAs the specter of a racist past turns to the walking dead, the willful ignorance of a nation is brought to the fore in Percival Everett’s The Trees. With his latest novel, Everett—who was named a 2021 Pulitzer finalist for the experimental Telephone—has written another thrilling, intelligent, and absurdist cross-genre narrative ... One of Everett’s talents is his ability to so deftly juxtapose parodies of racists with the gravity of racist violence ... The humor in Everett’s novel is agitated by the consistent presence of Black bodies, their presence looming over racist white caricatures and insisting on being seen and remembered. In blurring the lines between detective fiction and satire, humor and social commentary, The Trees evokes contradicting emotions. While the violence on the page elicits horror, the incredible ignorance driving the white characters turns terror into gallows humor ... What is at first rendered as pure satire through exaggerated violence is later grounded in reality and recognized as faithful.