PositiveNew City LitShteyngart reimagines the uncertainty of those early days, and also adds context and clarity, even as we remain in the midst of pandemic life ... Our Country Friends feels anything but rushed. It has the leisurely quality of a, yes, Russian novel with a wide cast of characters both rich and poor, youthful and desired, aging and desiring. Shteyngart captures the odd way time moved during the early days of the pandemic, how, despite our isolation, we were bound by fear and confusion ... What might have begun as silly and satirical veers toward heartfelt and meaningful as the COVID-19 virus makes its way into their secluded and pampered lives.
Jocelyn Nicole Johnson
PositiveNew City Lit... a bold collection...[that gives]readers a feeling of belonging in these stories, regardless of their race. Particularly, she gives white readers the opportunity to put themselves in the shoes of these characters. The crowning glory is the eponymous novella, My Monticello ... The group of people come to look upon the former plantation as their home, a sort of property of the people, or \'our\' Monticello, but the generosity of the people who are truly entitled to ownership of the house is most astounding.
RaveNew City LitOne of the thrills of reading The Sentence are the books Tookie (and presumably Erdrich) loves and recommends ... The pandemic and the murder of George Floyd are no mere plot devices—they are a reckoning ... filled with humor and humanity. Her characters ask life’s hard questions, usually coming out the wiser, and you might too.
RaveNew City LitRuth Ozeki’s novels continue to evolve to include ever-greater explorations into themes of connection across time and space. While that might sound intimidating, she practically embraces the reader in her accessible prose as if inviting a friend on an exciting new adventure ... Longtime fans of Ozeki will appreciate that in her arching career, she’s never lost sight of the necessity of caring for the earth, she has only broadened her literary subject matter to encompass the impact of materialism. Troubling out the meaning of these materials, these objects, these forms that we collect or purge or recycle is one of the many themes Ozeki takes up in this work ... The Book of Form and Emptiness is a book-lover’s book, one for the collection, one to hold in your hands and feel the spark of joy.
PositiveNewcity LitToews can bring humor to even a deeply upsetting narrative, but in her latest novel, she’s loosened the reins. Expect chortles. While each character is richly developed, it’s Grandma who’s full of surprises ... Toews’ book often reads like a fast-paced romp that seems to be leading less and less toward a traditional plot. What materializes eventually, is, in fact, a deeply heartwarming glimpse of the bonds between mothers and daughters and grandmothers and granddaughters. Rather than the rising action, climax and denouement of the hero’s journey, you’ll find the cyclical story of birth and death and birth again, coinciding and colliding in life’s messy way.
RaveNew City LitShe casts an unflinching eye to the relationship between herself and her mother, who was highly critical and said shockingly hurtful things to her daughter. She shines a spotlight on her own less-than-perfect behavior as well, revealing, no surprise: a typical mother-daughter relationship, full of hurt and heart-stopping love ... At a time when the United States is reckoning with anti-Asian racism, books like Zauner’s and the story of her lived experience as a Korean-American feels vitally important.
RaveNew City Lit... illustrates the striking similarities between the way Jivan is treated by the court systems and how people of color and economic hardship are abused by the American justice system. Majumdar exposes not just institutionalized injustices but also the corrupting influence of capitalism on the individual ... Majumdar provides a glimpse into the rarified life of a hijra, amplifying the voice of someone from this often misunderstood community. In a broader sense, she angles the spotlight on the corruption of power, and what people will do to gain even a little bit more.
PositiveNew City LitAt times quite funny (perhaps dependent on the readers’ comfort level with snakes), Stay and Fight is more than anything a thought-provoking examination of the independence and autonomy of the family unit ... [Ffitch] infuses the pages with a fierce and complex love of place. Stay and Fight is a dark warning about the environmental impact of fracking and pipelines, as well as an anthem to the families that we create.