RaveThe New York Journal of BooksMemorable lines abound ... There’s also a healthy dose of wit in this telling ... While the storytelling is impressionistic, the artwork, by father and son Alberto and Enrique Breccia, is pure expressionism ... The use of woodcuts, too, chimes perfectly with its subject matter. The technique, associated with early 20th century leftist artists—socialists and anarchists—lends a purity of form, almost abstract in its blocky simplicity, to the episodes on the battlegrounds of Bolivia ... The final three pages of Life of Che are extraordinary. They unfurl like a roll of film, gradually zooming in on the murdered Che’s visage, crosshatched like scars, with a bullet hole above his right eye. That visage stares back at its viewers, daring them to take up his unfinished revolutionary mission.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... outstanding ... McCarthy’s cultural references are cross-continental, cross-caste, and multilingual as well as interdisciplinary ... While McCarthy is a polymath and a superb writer, occasionally you wonder what he’s up to ... he produces epiphanies like candies from a slot machine ... For its penetrating thought, its joyful language, and its eclectic wanderings among the peaks and valleys of high and low culture, this book is an act of sublime generosity from a brilliant mind. Essai? Triomphe.
MixedThe New York Journal of BooksThe writing is bare and unadorned, and the author’s roots as a poet are hardly visible. But the prose works. It’s direct, transparent, and leavened with a sly humor that stems from the reader’s insider knowledge of things that confuse the hapless characters ... Despite its fertile thematic territory and easy style, the collection is uneven. A few of the stories are little more than vignettes that never quite achieve friction or epiphany. The author gets her vitality and tension from writing about the clash of Laotian and western cultures, and the stories that depart from this milieu lose their drive. But at her best—in the title story, and in Randy Travis and Picking Worms—Thammavongsa says vital things about the immigrant experience: how refugees strive to fit in and yet retain cultural traditions; how race is entwined with class; and how family is, in the end, all we have.
Eliane Brum, Trans. Diane Grosklaus Whitty
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... a compassionate trek through Brazil’s peripheries, where the poor and the marginalized reside. As [Brum] mines urban favelas and Amazonian villages for stories, Brazil’s violent past and uncertain present come looming out of the shadows ... It’s clear that Brum reveres the act of listening ... Along with the stories, Brum has a knack of eliciting the perfect quote, the line that captures a life ... While the collection is shot through with tragedy, at times it’s also comic. This is partly due to the characters Brum meets. Many of them are hustlers, illiterate stoics imbued with wisdom, wisecracking heroes of their own back yards. It’s also the prose, which has an antic, almost surrealist, energy. The essays are full of bric-a-brac, arcane rituals, and droll nicknames ... The book has one small blemish. In contrast to Diane Grosklaus Whitty’s terrifically fluid and idiomatic translation of the essays, the Introduction at times comes across as awkward and stilted ... These oddities are in no way representative of the rest of the book. Overall, this is a superb chronicle of marginalization, a collage depicting a continent-sized country still finding its way nearly 200 years after independence.
Saladin Ahmed, Illustrated by Sami Kivelä
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksThe dialogue is snappy but flawed...[with] all the clichés of the genre ... But the story moves fast and Sami Kivelä\'s illustrations are as gorgeous and stylish as ever ... The illustrations and lettering are formally inventive, too ... Abbott is enormously enjoyable. The occult plot is a touch hokey, but Elena makes the journey worthwhile. Her story is one long fight. Racism, the patriarchy, dumb bosses, supernatural forces. She handles it all, cigarette dangling, not a hair out of place.