PositiveNew York Times Book ReviewBitter Orange Tree offers plenty of detail about Omani life between world wars ... Evocative reading ... Committing Bint Aamir’s life to writing transforms her story into one that inspires reverence, rather than pity. Bint Aamir takes on a mythic quality...and her unchanging appearance, wearing the same garments all her life, gives her a sense of permanence amid the sudden changes in her country. In Alharthi’s world, it’s not only the future that holds promise; the past has possibility and opportunities for revision, too.
Mahir Guven, trans. by Tina Kover
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewOlder Brother, the superb debut novel by Mahir Guven, unfolds in Paris \'the way you drive a car in the banlieue: tires squealing, running red lights and stop signs.\' This may be a story from the city’s outer margins, but it’s one that goes to the heart of questions roiling contemporary France ... The brothers remain unnamed until the book’s final pages and trade off as narrators, though the older one propels the story. His voice, expertly translated by Tina Kover, is wry, jaded, insouciant ... Guven was born in Nantes, the son of refugees, and worked as a journalist. He has a reporter’s knack for balancing a chorus of perspectives about everything from France’s economic tumult to its charged relationship with immigration. His book — which won a top French literary award, the Prix Goncourt for a debut novel — accomplishes what the best kind of reporting can do: wade into questions that resist simple answers, while restoring dignity to its characters ... Contradictions enrich the novel, steering it away from the territory of a plodding, dutiful fable.