PositiveThe Los Angeles TimesWritten with the feel of a spy novel, the former spy’s book offers a salient and dynamic window into who works to keep America (and the world) safe ... As with most things related to the CIA, clarifications and confirmations are tough to come by, so there’s no official response to Undercover ... a timely, compelling story. As fellow citizens, we’d all do well to better understand what that vital work entails.
PositiveLos Angeles TimesThe first thing author Sunil Dutta describes in his biting new memoir, Stealing Green Mangoes, is the reality of trans-generational trauma ... His thought-provoking book asks a central question: How did two brothers — both raised in poverty, abused at home and shaken by the family’s loss of status in a status-obsessed society — take such divergent paths? ... Juxtaposed with his story are the crime-soaked escapades of his older brother, Raju, whom Sunil remembers with alternating love and intense shame ... Throughout the book Sunil broods on why he is obsessed with his brother’s negative path.
RaveThe Los Angeles Times... fabulously quirky and unconventional ... While the topics are adventurous, the nonfiction collection tackles the all-too-human topic of yearning and its oft-corollary, obsession. Both gurgle beneath the writer’s sonorous and captivating prose ... Her last section, the Dwelling, chimes best.
PositiveThe Los Angeles Times... illuminating and candid ... what River of Fire does so well is explain how deeply culture infuses and informs how we see disparity and injustice. It shows how difficult it is to break free from its limitations.
PositiveLos Angeles TimesThe strained Los Angeles landscape in Steph Cha’s crime thriller Your House Will Pay is immediately recognizable to anyone who lived in the city during the traumatic period surrounding the 1992 riots ... a dramatic page-turner ... a deep dive into Los Angeles’ racial underbelly and tensions. It’s a timely book that showcases two cultures and two families forced to confront injustice, enduring anger and profound loss. Cha deftly shows how flesh-and-blood people struggle in the shadow of outsized cultural dramas and headlines that can define a city ... With no simple, cauterized answers or endings, the novel’s portrayal of continued violence suggests racial understanding is still limited in Los Angeles, nearly three decades after Harlins’ death.
RaveLos Angeles TimesCertain books give off the sense that you won’t want them to end, so splendid the writing, so lyrical the stories. Such is the case with Southern California novelist Susan Straight’s new memoir, In the Country of Women ... vibrant pages are filled with people of churned-together blood culled from scattered immigrants and native peoples, indomitable women and their babies ... Despite our tendency to gaze to the future, with her words, Straight gives us permission to remember what went before with passion and attachment ... [a] beautiful book.
PositiveThe Los Angeles TimesIt’s a fair guess that back in Dallas, young Melinda never considered she’d one day proudly pronounce herself an \'ardent feminist\' or boldly and publicly oppose a core teaching of her church — on contraception — all while calling out that institution’s male hierarchy who once put and now keeps it in place. Yet in her potent and laudable book, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, that’s precisely what she does ... [Gates is] a keenly appealing narrator and in many ways the book is a graceful account of her own personal consciousness-raising as a woman.
PositiveLos Angeles Times\"... a vivid meditation on the year after his father-in-law’s death: a conscious transition from grief glimpsed through the prism of his pedestrian daily routines and tested by the changing Japanese seasons ... It’s Iyer’s keen ear for detail and human nature that helps him populate his trademark cantabile prose with his (seemingly boring) daily routines and the (never boring) people who populate them ... Each player offers a unique navigation through these comes-to-all autumn years; and how clever of Iyer to make their commotions a metaphor for how the world paddles forward.\
RaveLos Angeles TimesRenowned poet and human rights activist Forché’s new memoir...is a lyrical, potent book ... [Forché\'s mentor Leonel Gomez Vides] wants Forché to see, truly see his country. Of course, it’s not all dim violence; El Salvador is a geographically beautiful country, and there’s plentiful prose as Forché describes its famed volcanoes, black sand beaches, cane, cotton and coffee fields ... Throughout the necessary grisly recounting of what she witnessed, we hear Gomez constantly admonishing Forché ... The question remains: Why did she go? Even by the end of the story we are still not certain ... This remarkable book is the world she saw.