PositiveThe New York Times...helps illuminate Hurston’s path to iconic status. Its 21 stories are presented in the order in which she composed them. As a result, readers can note the progression from earnest \'apprentice\' works and experiments with form to the polished brilliance of her best-known stories ... In many of the stories in this collection, Hurston’s men and women confront...challenges while also trying and failing at love, then trying again ... Hurston is equally insistent on displaying the bruised, bloody underside of romantic misadventure ... Hurston’s willingness to show warts and wounds ran counter to black bourgeois sensitivities about revealing dirty laundry in public. Against the backdrop of Harlem Renaissance bigwigs calling for positive depictions of high-achieving Negroes, Hurston unpacked the lives of everyday black people doing everyday things ... Add her matchless powers of observation, exemplary fidelity to idiomatic speech and irresistible engagement with folklore, and the outcome is a collection of value to more than Hurston completists. Any addition to her awe-inspiring oeuvre should be met with open arms.
PositiveNew York Times Book Review\"In his consistently entertaining new book, Immigrant, Montana, Amitava Kumar, an Indian-born writer and scholar, recalls the youthful romantic adventures of Kailash, an Indian-born writer and scholar ... While the best of his asides to the bench can be quite witty, they sometimes come off as unnecessary digressions in an otherwise easefully flowing narrative ... When he finally completed his master’s thesis, Kailash realized what he really wanted to write about was love. Readers will be neither surprised nor displeased by this epiphany, since Kailash has managed to do so all along, with considerable wit to boot.\
PositiveThe Washington Post\"About 100 pages from the end, the book shifts from a more or less seamless narrative to a series of stitched-together observations and mini-essays on race, black art and the perils of parenting. While his thoughts on these and other subjects are perceptive and provocative, they seldom are as intriguing as the tale of his own meanderings. He eschews a straight line, he tells readers, because his experience has been anything but ... Pardlo shares these reflections in prose that seems powerful and effortless. At the same time, he often writes as if holding something in reserve, perhaps stockpiling memories and experiences to be examined in future essays, poems and memoirs. Let’s hope so.\
Danielle S. Allen
PositiveBookforumIn Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A., Danielle Allen, a decorated scholar and Harvard professor, struggles with the short life and violent death of Michael Alexander Allen, a first cousin ... Her description of her prison visits is perhaps the most riveting chapter in the book, bringing to mind Wideman’s excursions behind bars to talk with his brother Robby ... Both observations, rendered in quite different but strikingly forceful language, provide a telling glimpse of the dehumanization (both subtle and overt) that can accompany the death of a black person, often while the body is still warm ... Readers will finish this brief, perceptive memoir knowing just enough about Michael to appreciate the author’s devastating sense of loss. They will also have an understanding, barring changes to the system, of the many more Michaels we stand to lose.
RaveThe Washington PostThe Dominican Republic he portrays in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a wild, beautiful, dangerous and contradictory place, both hopelessly impoverished and impossibly rich...a borderless anxiety zone that James Baldwin would describe as ‘the anguished diaspora’ … In no rush to spill the details of his hero's short, star-crossed adventures, Díaz maneuvers his plot through various time shifts, settings and narrators. From Santo Domingo to Washington Heights, N.Y., to Paterson, N.J., various generations of de Leons wrestle with fate and lose … I find sufficient meaning in the sheer joy of absorbing Díaz's sentences, each rolled out with all the nerdy, wordy flair of an audacious imagination and a vocabulary to match.
ed. Jesmyn Ward
RaveBookforum...the desire to offer thoughtful reflection while setting the record straight pulses resoundingly through the essays and poems Ward has collected. The lineup of stellar contributors invites comparison to a major-league all-star team, with a tremendously gifted writer patrolling every position. The essays and poems stand on their own, but together, they also build into a powerful collective statement.