RaveNPREvery once in a while there is a novel that enters the literary zeitgeist and requires discourse — but it feels like there is nothing that can be written or said that will ever do it justice. This is the feeling R.F. Kuang\'s new novel Yellowface evokes ... Highly immersive ... A thrilling journey ... The story is a multi-layer, complex conversation that tackles a few things about the publishing industry at once ... Kuang\'s first foray outside of fantasy is a well-executed, gripping, fast-paced novel about the nuances of the publishing world when an author is desperate enough to do anything for success. I was consistently at the edge of my seat until the very last page.
RaveNPRBrilliant and effervescent ... Walls\' drama-filled page-turner barrels through a few storylines, touching on a fraught battle over family business succession, racial tension in a poor rural county, family secrets, and land conflict, all with the prohibition war looming as its backdrop ... The most satisfying thing about this novel is Walls\' excellent construction of the main female characters. Each of them represents women from varying walks of life, each fighting for their own place in a male-dominated world ... A stunning and compelling tale.
Erika L. Sánchez
RaveWashington Post... It’s as if [Sánchez] anticipated that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade, and she set out to provide women with the literature they needed to both comfort and inspire us as we navigate this new reality ... Sánchez is a raw, unapologetic and acerbic writer, who leans into difficult topics ... As funny as the essay is, Sánchez also manages to capture the frustration of being a young girl growing into womanhood while trying to understand her body and fending off the predatory advances of men ... Sánchez’s writing evokes vivid images. It’s also humorous, contemplative and so conversational that it feels like she’s telling the story of her life over a cup of coffee with a blunt on the side. Sánchez refers to herself as loud and crass, and her writing proves it. All of which is to say, this insightful memoir might not resonate with the easily offended. But those looking for an unfiltered, feel-good story will find it here.
RaveThe Washington PostThis penetrating look at a delicacy filled with emotional turmoil but built into the very soul of a community echoes more sweeping issues of identity. Wilkerson is questioning the very essence of tradition that is known to many people of Caribbean heritage ... a delectable read. Wilkerson’s scenes unfold as quick-paced vignettes, immersing readers into the minds and environments of the characters. It takes us on a journey that forces us to look at how both chance encounters and historical events, such as the transatlantic slave trade and Windrush migration, alter a family. The effects ripple out for generations, and the novel allows for a full reflection on how one’s self-identity can change in an instant.
RaveThe Washington PostAlice Walker, Toni Morrison and Jamaica Kincaid are all known for vividly chronicling the lives of Black women. Glory Edim’s decision to compile their works in On Girlhood, a compelling anthology that also includes contemporary writers such as Amina Gautier and Alexia Arthurs, results in a literary master class ... carefully curated ... The collection captures the wide spectrum of Black girlhood, reminding readers that Blackness is not monolith. These experiences may have similarities, but cultural differences play a role in how Black girls are raised and see the world, especially in the United States ... a strong collection that delves into the various ways that Black girls love, the way they hate, the way they respond to pressure, the way they respond to parents and, perhaps most important, the way they respond to society. The one common thread through these stories is that each of the protagonists struggles with her Blackness because of how she is perceived by the outside world and the people with whom she interacts. Some of the stories are told through the lens of childhood, while others are explored through motherhood and marriage. But they all pull back the curtain on what it is like to grow up as Black and female.
RaveThe Washington PostDevoid of bells and whistles, the story moves with ease taking on a childlike tone, particularly in scenes with George’s character. Some scenes are particularly vivid ... a beautiful follow-up to Becoming Mrs. Lewis. It’s a love letter to books and stories with a meaningful message. Megs and her family learn that fantastical tales are more than mere ways to appease young children. Stories are nourishment for the souls that need joy the most, and sometimes they’re the only thing that can help us understand life.
MixedNPR... it takes readers on a wild, funny, ride through a mystery that encompasses charlatan preachers, corrupt politicians, upper-class scholars and more. The parts of the novel that are good are immensely good—and in true Soyinka fashion, the writing tosses you right into the middle of Nigerian life, for better or worse ... It is a difficult storyline to follow. Soyinka writes in a conversational tone — if the conversation were between scholars and not barstool buddies—and neglects to introduce his central character, around whom the murder mystery swirls, until five chapters in. Chronicles—though it flashes with Soyinka\'s sharp social and political humor, takes a herculean effort to read; it\'s littered with far too many names to keep track of. (And even after reading over 440 pages of this whodunnit story, it\'s still unclear why Pitan-Payne\'s family insists he should not be brought back to Nigeria.) ... It\'s painful to suggest that Soyinka\'s new novel might be anything less than a work of art—after all, he has been percolating on the idea for quite some time. But em>Chronicles is largely inaccessible to non-intellectuals, and florid beyond reason at times. More than that, the story\'s complexity makes it easy for readers to disengage if they\'re not intimately familiar with the inner workings of Nigerian politics.
RaveNPR... an inspiring novel that truly demonstrates the power women wield, regardless of the era. It has sisterhood, love, war, sex — and many graphic deaths, all entangled in a once-forgotten abbey in the English countryside ... With masterful wordplay and pacing, Groff builds what could have been a mundane storyline into something quite impossible to put down. The writing itself is a demonstration of power. Eschewing direct dialogue and traditional chapters for a three-part structure, the story starts slow but then picks up the pace, barreling through Marie\'s years at the convent ... The novel\'s prose is well constructed and filled with strong imagery that will remain embedded in your subconscious days later ... Her use of short but not entirely quick sentences, particularly at the start of the novel, is a tricky way of pacing a story that is written in such a formal tone ... Her allusions to female pleasure — such as masturbation and oral sex — are done as stealthily as her allusions to heinous actions such as rape, almost like a whisper that you might miss if you\'re not paying attention. But there are instances where allusions are not enough, and she is graphic, leaving little to the imagination when discussing death and sickness ... exposes the complexity of being a woman living in a world where men make all the rules, regardless of the era. But it also may leave you wondering whether this is a story about one woman\'s feminist aspirations — or her overzealous ambition.
PositiveThe Washington Post... disturbing, haunting ... Fresh off the success of their third novel, The Death of Vivek Oji, Emezi delivers a sharp, raw, propulsive and always honest account of the trials they endure as a person \'categorized as other\' ... Emezi thrives. By talking and writing, they convey how it feels to have a \'spirit at odds with flesh\' ... not for the fainthearted. Many of the personal anecdotes can be gruesome and disturbing — thoughts of skinning and cannibalistic desire, stories of dead bodies and maggot-infested dogs — but they are written in an enthralling visceral stream of consciousness. At times, there is a pretentiousness to Emezi’s writing, when they do find the voice to talk about their greatness. But arrogance suits them ... Though the book can be difficult to read, Emezi carefully captures the struggle of what it means to be a person — or an entity — in a world that is not designed to accommodate their existence ... A powerful memoir such as this benefits greatly from this epistolary structure. Such intimacy deserves a proper release. Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir is written for those searching for kindred spirits in a world that makes them hard to find.
RaveThe Rumpus... bold, brave, and beautifully written ... a story about defiance and survival, eschewing much of the typical tropes one would expect in a novel about immigrants ... The author exposes the way a woman’s identity is wrapped up tightly in traditional notions of womanhood, something that many Caribbean people still strongly hold on to ... As the novel progresses, it is impossible not to relate to Patsy’s plight ... Dennis-Benn bravely tackles the narrative around what it means to be an immigrant, pulling apart a reference that has been an increasingly prevalent topic of conversation in the United States in the past three years ... Not only does Dennis-Benn address topics often swept under the rug, but she brings compassion to a complicated woman who does her best to forge a fulfilling life for herself ... Patsy’s character is a flawed woman, well-presented on the pages of this novel. Dennis-Benn pens a beautiful narrative that encapsulates the converging joy and pain of many Caribbean immigrants in search of a better life. Her work sheds light on the realities of chasing the elusive American dream that many Caribbean people still hold today. Patsy will be part of the literary canon that opens the window to a multifaceted Caribbean life.