RaveBooklistThis realistic, character-driven novel with multiple, exceptionally well developed, threads of suspense engages contemporary identity politics and what it means to belong—to a club, to a racial group, to a country, and to various cultures and subcultures ... a fast-paced structure akin to Ian McEwan’s Saturday (2005), though both writers manage to slow down enough to offer quiet moments that accentuate the protagonists’ interior lives. Pandya’s writing here is smooth, clear, funny, and often subtly beautiful. Members Only is the thoughtful page-turner we need right now.
PositiveBooklistGunesekera’s latest is an entrancing examination of how we are marked by our earliest friendships and how, even in the closest relationships, it is difficult to know if those we love are capable of loving us back. Suncatcher’s long sections are often punctuated by sugary summaries of the characters’ emotional situations, but the fictional dream is rarely broken, with scenic details grounding readers just enough to anchor them to the honestly and realistically portrayed intimacies of boyhood friendship.
RaveBooklistGeddes has successfully woven a slightly dark comic mystery into the heart of a novel comprised of extended third-person character sketches ... The writing here is hilarious and poignant, inviting belly laughs and thoughtful, genuinely moving introspection on how what we collect comes to define us.
RaveBooklistThese stories have emotional consequence, but they also playfully subvert expectations. Their protagonists are mostly gay and mostly out, that is they’re queer and in the world, navigating degrees of outness as they search for themselves. Kispert’s short fiction is a performative lie that reveals truth to readers in subtle, surprising ways that literary fiction lovers will devour ... Kispert’s stories dig deep, and they’re far from forgettable.
MixedBooklistThis is a road memoir heavily influenced by Kerouac’s On The Road, which Kaldheim mentions repeatedly. It’s a look into a life seemingly lived with the intention of writing a memoir. The book risks turning off readers who don’t share Kaldheim’s reverence of Kerouac, but it’s a risk he mitigates with a compelling story given in a direct voice that doles out brief character sketches in droves. Slightly marred by an abrupt afterword, a summary that could be fuel for a follow-up, Idiot Wind is a reminder that great personal nonfiction can appear at any time.
Geovani Martins, Trans. by Julia Sanches
RaveBooklistDrugs and poverty color them, but these brief voice-driven stories are firmly about the hopes and desires of the young men of Rio. With slang-laden, boldly voiced prose that grounds readers in a unique place, Martins transports readers to the streets and beaches of Rio. In much the way that Edward P. Jones’ writing breathes life into the Washington D.C. that lies beyond Pennsylvania Avenue, Martins’ stories animate and humanize the people of a city whose humanity is often obscured by its own reputation.
PositiveBooklistWhile Hayoun is himself present in When We Were Arabs, the book’s tone is less personal than that of most contemporary memoir ... Light on scenes and bereft of dialogue, this well researched and timely family history will appeal foremost to history lovers, serious amateur genealogists, and those with a particular interest in Jewish Arab identity.
PositiveBooklistAt its best, the collection is an excellent homage to George Saunders, with its strange details and forms efficiently pulling readers to the emotional heart of a story. But sometimes the stories feel zany just for the sake of zaniness, their human elements buried beneath a slick guise of goofiness. Still, Bob-Waksberg’s fiction debut will capture many readers with its formal innovation, playful language, and relatable portraits of romance gone awry.
PositiveBooklistIrish writer Connell gives readers a tight debut memoir of farming and personal reflection ... In short, sometimes clipped, sentences, Connell flirts with melodrama...but he is mostly successful in negotiating the risk of sentimentality. The Farmer’s Son echoes Aldo Leopold’s articulation of the land ethic, Michael Pollan’s writing on the food chain, and Ivan Doig’s plain-language music. Admirers of these writers will celebrate the entrance of Connell’s strong and distinct voice.
PositiveBooklistLargely an exploration of the memory work of memoirists, it might lack thrust if Rock didn’t so beautifully layer vivid details into scenes that seem more conjured than written. This genre-bending autobiographical novel occasionally spends too long in dreamland with the narrator, who uses a faculty grant to float in an isolation tank as part of a book project. But these overly dreamy sections are only short digressions in an undeniably lovely novel.