PositiveThe Associated PressArif Anwar\'s debut novel ... drills down to an almost microscopic viewpoint to explore Bangladesh’s struggle for independence through intimate, interconnected stories that span 60 years. The result is less like a catastrophic flood and more like an illustration of the butterfly effect ... The Storm ends up as a richly realized, instructive tale about what to do with people set adrift by major disturbances, and about filtering broad strokes of storm data to study individual people who follow some rules and break others to find security and do what they think is right.
Maria Dahvana Headley
PositiveThe Associated PressHeadley, who also is working on a new translation of Beowulf, subverts the epic by exploring its good-versus-evil battle from the perspective of women who were largely left on the margins by the ancient bards ... The hero is supposed to be local police officer Ben Woolf. The bards already covered his heroics, so Headley cleverly reflects on his shortcomings ... You don’t have to remember Beowulf to get what Headley is saying here: a monster lives in every mirror, and every enemy is someone else’s hero.
RaveThe Associated PressThrough Phillips’ eyes, Rhys personifies the fading of the British empire. She is claimed like a resource then discarded when she becomes unpalatable. She lives like an exile in the place she was taught to think of, despite its distance, as home. She becomes something of an embarrassment to the wealthy men whose whims dictate her existence. It’s curious that Phillips skims over Rhys’ writing career, especially his omission of her affair with the English writer Ford Madox Ford ... What Phillips does instead is recreate the atmosphere in which Rhys found her voice as a writer: the lush tropical paradise seething with racial tension. The cheap hotel rooms and boarding houses where Rhys always seemed to have enough liquor but not enough to eat ... A View of the Empire at Sunset is a sympathetic and powerful portrait of an outcast seeking sustainability, as well as a searing indictment of the empire that abandoned responsibility for the people it uprooted and set adrift.
PositiveAssociated PressWith exhaustive research in spite of limitations imposed by Cosmopolitan's publisher, Hirshey peels back decades of parodies and kitsch to reveal how Brown turned a dying magazine into a cultural juggernaut...For anyone who thinks Brown flirted her way to the top desk at Cosmopolitan, Hirshey has the details of the sexism and double standards that dogged her success. Not Pretty Enough makes clear how Brown worked hard for everything she got (including men).
PositiveAssociated PressIn Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart, Harman argues that Bronte was shaped as a writer by the tension she navigated between her father's parental neglect and her imaginary games with her siblings. Harman spends less time in this imaginary world than Bronte's previous biographers and critics — not dismissing its importance to the creative development of Bronte and her sisters, but giving equal weight to the real world around them.