PositiveNew York Journal Review of BooksA Particular Kind of Black Man is a straightforward story ... No great surprises. No totally unexpected twists in the telling. Not up in the star league of top Nigerian novelists—the likes of Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka, Man Booker Prize winners, Ben Okri and Chinua Achebe, and also two up and coming women, Helen Oyeyemi and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who wrote Americanah, the only other Nigerian novel besides A Particular Kind of Black Man to be set in the US. Nevertheless, if not in the top class in this African country, which has made good novel writing an industry, Folarin’s is a subtle novel that pulls you into the minutae of the story. The delight is in the detail. It is the drawing of the characters, the setting of the situations—usually of acerbic hardship—and the pacing of the experiences that will draw the reader in. The truths about human longing and desire are laid bare in Tunde’s character. The pain of failure combined with the willed urge to look happy in public and to bring his boys up to be independently minded, strong-willed and well-educated young men are touchingly and poignantly manifest in his father.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksMost readers’ emotions are likely to become totally absorbed in whether these two will escape from their predicament unscathed ... a great yarn, well told, easy on the mind, shaped to last the time of a trans-Atlantic flight and to make the journey pass more quickly.
Robert Menasse, Trans. by Jamie Bulloch
MixedNew York Journal of BooksTo write a novel about the turgid, bureaucratic goings on in the headquarters of the European Union—the so-called Commission, based in Brussels—is as difficult a subject as one can choose. Menasse has a good stab at it. It is a wry tale ... The digressions spoil a reasonably good novel.
RaveNew York Journal of Books\"Machines Like Me is the result of very special literary brain, the master of all he turns his writing to, fantasying deep into our imagination, a novelist with the ability to turn complex science or strange events into gripping and elegant prose. Like the best of novelists he knows how to penetrate right inside the makeup of a human being. Every character, however unusual, becomes believable in his deft hands ... Every sentence is well chosen and has perfect form. Every twist in the tale—there are many—is tuned taut for maximum effect ... With this novel Ian McEwan opens our eyes to a future for human beings when that is a real possibility—an insufficient and horrifying prospect.\
MixedNew York Journal of BooksTwo years ago came Professor Philip Hoffman of Caltech University with his book Why Did Europe Conquer the World? He argued that Europe’s pace of innovation was driven by a peculiar form of military competition ... Now comes along a book with a different take on all this: Empires of the Weak by J. C. Sharman ... He doesn’t appear to have read Hoffman’s book, but [Sharman\'s book] reads as if he was refuting it ... Sharman’s book now puts a real debate on the academic mat. We spectators can enjoy this intellectual joust. It’s not easy to tell who is right.
Alessandro D'Avenia, trans. by Jeremy Parzen
RaveNew York Journal of BooksA beautifully written novel, translated from the Italian, with a heartwarming story against a backcloth of misery ... By building long anecdote upon anecdote we finally arrive at the end of the book with everything you need to know about this neighborhood, its varied inhabitants, its sordidness and its multi-colored scenes of life. On the way, the language soars like a symphony. The notes are in perfect pitch.
Andrew S. Curran
RaveNew York Journal of Books[Curran] has done an excellent job. It is very well researched, leaving no stone unturned, covering all the territory of the times, both foreground and background, and it is learned and lucid ... Curran has unearthed quite a number of fascinating gems of information.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksFull of intrigue. It’s swiftly told in convincing detail. Mallon has a deft touch. There are plenty of unexpected twists and turns ... Parts of the book are fiction but there is plenty of fictionalized nonfiction that rings true. It’s a very good novel of this particular genre.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"Lauren Wilkinson, the author, is only twenty-something, so it is amazing that she could have gathered such wide-ranging experience of these two secretive organizations. She writes plausibly ... Wilkinson has something of [John Updike\'s] style, too, knowing how to give a story just the right pace with enough twists and turns to encourage the reader to finish it in one sitting. Her ability to create an uncertain mood and a seedy atmosphere is reminiscent of Graham Greene. Lauren Wilkinson is not yet on par with Updike and Greene, but it wouldn’t be surprising if this young, highly talented writer doesn’t get there before too long.\
RaveNew York Journal of Books\"With such telling writing the author, Madhur Vijay from Bangalore, India, at the onset seduces the reader into reading a marvelous story ... Madhuri Vijay’s talent is her ability to transport the reader deep into the village life of the mountain folk ... Madhuri Vijay wields her pen so carefully that it becomes effortless to imagine the mountains, the villages, the violence of the army and guerrillas, the poverty, the precariousness of life, and the smells of the small houses filled with the perfume of farm animals, smoke from the fireplace and the simple food cooking on the hearth ... There are many very good Indian novelists who have emerged the last 50 years. Here is another one. If she goes on like this she will enter the first rank...\
MixedNew York Journal of Books\"This is rather a thin story in a thin book, yet it tells an uplifting tale ... Much of the book is also a bit of a ramble in the hills with long digressions ... Yes, it’s quite a nicely baked short yarn, rather than a novel, but written a bit like a soufflé, rising in the oven but when eaten there isn’t that much substance.\
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksChigozie Obiama is one of many top-notch Nigerian novelists writing today. ... A fine and moving story ... What a remarkable writer Chigozie Obioma is.
Khaled Khalifa Trans. by Leri Price
RaveNew York Journal of Books\"Death Is Hard Work is a short book, but one learns more detail of the life of war than from a hundred newspaper and TV reports. By its end the pages smell of death ... The story is introverted like its characters. Yet at the same time it will produce extroverted thoughts among the readers. They will be transported out of their armchairs or subway seats—wherever they read—into a Syrian world that would be unfathomable without writing such as this. This book must be read. Not just because there is no other serious novel that has come out of the war but because it is a first-class piece of literature.\
Stephen M. Walt
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksAt last a book that attacks the \'Blob\' and holes it below the water line. Whether it can sink it is another matter ... Walt is as severe on his home country as any Harvard professor can be ... Proponents of Liberal Hegemony don’t believe that a liberal order arises spontaneously or sustains itself automatically. For them the goal has to be enforced when necessary ... Walt has an alternative, one that appears to resonate with the new millennial generation who perceive less foreign dangers, are less patriotic, and are decidedly less supportive of military solutions ... He defines it this way: Instead of trying to remake the world in America’s image, foreign policy should focus on the US’s position in the global balance of power. So it calls for the US to deploy its power abroad only when there are direct threats to US interests. As long as there’s no potential threatening hegemon in Europe, the Gulf or Northeast Asia, then there’s no need for a military interest. This is how it is at the moment.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"My Sister the Serial Killer stretches the imagination, makes unbelievable events plausible, and lures the reader into a fascinating world ... Braithwaite has a deceptively simple writing technique. The chapters are short—often only one and a half pages—the sentences are unadorned and straightforward. But Braithwaite has the ability to interject the unexpected and interpolate the tension.\
RaveNew York Journal of Books\"[Alice] Burns writes exceedingly well [in Milkman]but Esi Edugyan, born of Ghanaian parents in Canada, is better. She has a more limpid and more colorful style. There is more imagination in her writing and in the end the reader can feel quite intoxicated by her evocative but light language ... Washington Black is a marvelous tale ... Washington Black is a rich, absorbing tale.\
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books\'Obama was a light. Trump is of the night.\' ... Politics is a fickle beast. Barack Obama won more votes among blue-collar workers than did his opponent...but it was those very blue-collar workers who tipped the scales in Donald Trump’s victory...but in voting for Trump they voted against their economic interest. Trump hasn’t and won’t help the health of the poorer, nor improve income inequality, nor in the long run give them jobs...What he did give these voters was a sense of pride in being American, as Obama did, but Hilary Clinton couldn’t. \'Put America First!\' he shouted again and again. Trump blindsided them with talk of dismantling free trade. Even though events and the long run will show he has shot America in the foot, it sounded convincing ... Obama would have won a third term if allowed to run. He had more appeal across the electorate than Trump. It was Mrs. Clinton who lost it ... Obama was a light. Trump is of the night. Much of what you need to know for the future is in this book, in particular where the light switch is.