RaveThe New York Times Book Review[Ai Weiwei] is most eloquent when he stops pontificating on art and surrenders, almost despite himself, to the act of remembering. Ai writes evocatively of the nights spent in his detention cell ... In 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows, Ai does not allow his own scraps to remain buried. To unearth them is an act of unburdening, an open letter to progeny, a suturing of past and present. It is the refusal to be a pawn — and the most potent assertion of a self.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewDeeply researched, Chang’s book is a riveting read, but at times her focus — on disproving her initial bland impression of the sisters — can feel narrow ... Chang’s desire to credit the sisters’ contributions can overshadow the crucial question of how Ching-ling came to be so deluded about Mao’s revolution and why May-ling and Ei-ling were ultimately unable to save the Nationalist regime, with its many financial and tactical advantages, from devouring itself.
Yuko Tsushima Trans. by Geraldine Harcourt
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review\"... elegantly translated ... Tsushima writes in prose so bare and vivid that even banal details acquire a visceral vibrancy ... What emerges is a story that searchingly inhabits the lives of women without sentimentality or self-pity ... In putting pen to the blank page, [Tsushima] has opened up a territory that feels, in some small way, like a bright room of her own.\
PositiveThe New Yorker\"Ma’s prose is, for the most part, understated and restrained, somewhat in the manner of Kazuo Ishiguro, and particularly his classic The Remains of the Day, from 1989, which Ma has cited as an influence ... Ma is at her most deft when depicting this kind of severance: the amputation of the immigrant’s past, preserved like a phantom limb whose pain is haunted with absence ... Severance does not suggest a way out of this [post-apocolyptic] fate; for Ling Ma, the zombie narrative is not the scaffolding for allegory, about the hive mind or anything else, but the means for setting a pervasive mood—anxious and bleak.\
Minae Mizumura, Trans. by Juliet Winters Carpenter
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review\"At 446 pages, the novel can be baggy on occasion, but there is admirable ambition in the way Mitsuki’s story expands into a much larger portrait of middle-class anomie in a Japan still reckoning with its past and the paradoxes — and fraught compromises — of its identity ... In Mizumura’s novel, the new world may be constructed a thousand times, but invariably it reaches back into the old, the kind of inheritance that just may emanate darkness — as well as light.\
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewLi’s transformation into a writer — and her striking success (she is the winner of a MacArthur 'genius' grant, among other prestigious awards) — is nothing short of astonishing. But most of the essays here tend to center on the personal unraveling that accompanied this metamorphosis: two hospitalizations following suicide attempts and time spent at a recovery program ... Li can be an elusive writer, and her meditation on the teleology of pain and memory sometimes reads like a series of aphoristic koans...The reader never doubts that Li is an incisive thinker, but her tendency to sublimate her own emotions in the correspondence between others, be it Turgenev to Henry James or Chekhov to Tchaikovsky, occasionally puts one in mind of a devout nun’s scrupulous study of her prayer book ... The most memorable essay in the collection is not the most personal one but rather recounts Li’s relationship to English, which she calls her 'private language.'”
RaveThe New York Times Book Review...a powerfully expansive novel ... Across the seven decades and three generations encompassed by the novel, Thien writes with the mastery of a conductor who is as in command of the symphony’s tempo as she is attuned to the nuances of each individual instrument ... [a novel of] remarkable authenticity.