RaveThe Observer (UK)Grann, who spent five-plus years working on the book, is expert at stitching together the available facts so deftly that we hardly notice the gaps. He draws on other contemporary seafaring accounts to round out the narrative and splices in his own atmospheric descriptions of quaking seas and creaking hulls ... Provides a valuable corrective, then, but not at the expense of a cracking yarn, with no shortage of jeopardy to bedevil its characters. Grann’s taste for desperate predicaments finds its fullest expression here, and it’s hard to think of a better author to steer us through the extremes.
MixedThe Observer (UK)This disorientation is present from the outset and in the opening pages it threatens to derail Chaudhuri’s usually sure-footed prose. Faqrul’s arrival at the narrator’s talk provokes a flurry of similes, none of which quite land as they ought to...Is this a reflection of the narrator’s shaky mental state or just subpar writing? ... No matter. The prose soon regains its footing and as the narrator meanders around Berlin, visiting department stores, museums and an old-style dancehall, the novel weaves its befuddling spell ... We’re left with an impression of a man untethered in reality, but also of a world drained of significance, of consequence, of strong feelings or at least their outward expression.
RaveThe Guardian (UK)... magnificent ... Yong has a knack for vivid similes ... might be his most audacious undertaking so far ... We may feel like we are the masters of our planet, having mapped every inch of its landmass and stared into the guts of an atom, but when it comes to understanding what it’s like to be a songbird using the earth’s magnetic field to navigate across continents, we barely know where to start. Yong is up for giving it his best shot, not least because he understands how damaging it can be to disregard other creatures’ perspectives ... The book is so full of these little astonishments, beautifully rendered, that Yong occasionally risks overwhelming our sense of wonder ... But it’s the attempt that matters, and Yong succeeds brilliantly in shedding light on these alien worlds – worlds that drift around us every day, like plankton around a scallop, but whose richness and extravagant strangeness we rarely pause to examine. Now, thanks to this book, we have scenes to help us see.