RaveBrooklyn Rail...teeming with tales of retribution, though reducing the book or even its concept to that of a glorified burn book would be way off the mark. Desire, anger, murder, madness, robots, gods, monsters, apocalypses, love, hate, violence, magic, fairy godmothers, women as heroes, and men behaving badly (badly-behaved men who often pay with their lives, or hearts, or souls for said bad behavior): all these things live within this book’s pages ... it’s not difficult to find things to like here. From [Sparks\'] ability to spin an enchanting web of story to her gifts with language (alternately slangy in its idiom and jaw-dropping in its eloquence) and resolutions (bizarre and idiosyncratic yet somehow also universal) this is the perfect collection to dip into for 15 minutes here or a half hour there. You’re going to want to—and, honestly, probably have to—read all these stories more than once to get everything out of them, so there’s no need dashing through. Not that you couldn’t. Taken individually, the pieces are certainly good enough to make you read straight through; more still, to leave you wondering along the way just how Sparks does it ... Overall, And I Do Not Forgive You is nothing short of a raging success, a volume that points to a potentially incandescent literary future ... Ultimately, the various tensions at play in And I Do Not Forgive You are of the best sort, driving the writing brilliantly. Amber Sparks may be on her way to doing something rare—that is creating a style that requires the development of an expanded critical vocabulary to explain it. No outcome is assured this early in her career, but if Sparks keeps progressing at this rate critics may someday talk about \'weird realism\' or something like it, and do it in a way that acknowledges Sparks as its queen.
PositiveBrooklyn RailThe balance between comic and serious is crucial in literary comedy ... While a perfect balance is admittedly impossible, never mind a matter of taste, Leland Cheuk does an admirable job in his latest, No Good Very Bad Asian, achieving a true synthesis of heart and humor highlighted by the fluidity of his first-person voice and a steady diet of sharp turns of prose ... As a writer, Leland Cheuk has a varied palette of talents. Most striking is his novel comic sense and timing, abilities that routinely produce surprisingly humorous result ... No Good Very Bad Asian is a quick read, consistently funny, and surprisingly poignant at times. Cheuk achieves the very difficult balance necessary for successful literary comedy, pointing to a bright future. His fertile imagination given still freer rein, it would be interesting to see what Cheuk might come up with. I, for one, will be looking forward to that whatever that is.
PositiveThe Nervous BreakdownJohn Domini returns with some of the most assured writing of his career. Set in Naples in the wake of an earthquake, The Color Inside a Melon is a brisk, literary mystery that marries art and the investigation of a murder with questions of immigration, race, and class. Domini is at the top of his game in what may be the surprise hit of the summer.
PositiveThe Nervous BreakdownThe portrait of Sebastian Khan that emerges in Rashid’s debut is a humorous, edgy early-twentysomething coming-of-age, a character who will recall, for some readers, Charles Highway of Martin Amis’s The Rachel Papers. Told in an accessible third person and, at times, cutting nearly to the point of drawing blood, this is a book you can’t help but like from its first page.
RaveThe Brooklyn RailDoten combines a genius for fictive architecture with dazzling prose, all of it wrapped around a novel of ideas that never stops dancing from one question to the next. Satirically pyrotechnic and brilliantly formed, Trump Sky Alpha has a musical quality both on a line-to-line basis and in terms of narrative structure; a quality that, in the end, leaves the reader feeling a little like he’s listening to a sort of swan song for civilization, the world’s last symphony, if you will. I’ll leave it to others to debate whether Doten belongs on some best-of list. What I can say, without a doubt, is that Trump Sky Alpha is indeed a great literary novel, one that deserves to stand alongside the best work of writers like Don DeLillo and Thomas Pynchon.