RavePloughsharesPowles closes Magnolia木蘭 with the line: \'My mouth a river in full bloom\'...This so accurately describes the experience of reading this collection...A gracious guide through the experience of trying to inhabit other geographic locations and languages, her invitation is for readers to taste with all their senses the details of the world around them—the more languages one knows, the more multi-flavored reality becomes, and yet, as Powles notes, there is always \'a hunger that won’t go away\'...Perhaps the best way to go through life, then, is like the magnolia: \'Leafless, blushing, open-mouthed by the sea. Doused in pink, tongues out\'...This is the kind of wonder that fills this collection, calling readers to savor each poem.
RavePloughshares... spare, meditative, and episodic. The narrative follows not a defined plot but a series of moments, beautifully showcasing the way we experience life: the moments that are most important—the turning points—are often only realized in retrospect ... This, perhaps, is what’s most strikingly lyrical about Whereabouts—this tide of loneliness in an individual life is often intersected by snatches of intimacy ... Throughout Jhumpa Lahiri’s Whereabouts, I found myself saying, \'She’s writing to me.\' And indeed, she is writing for all of us who have found ourselves a little older, a little more alone and uncertain. The fact that Whereabouts is also Lahiri’s first self-translation of a full-length work from Italian to English adds another layer of meditation. Who are we when we translate ourselves into words? Sometimes words become that foothold, that ability to locate ourselves in space; at other times, it is the untranslatable—like the exuberance of strangers on a train—that lend to a story all the words we do not know.
C Pam Zhang
RavePloughsharesIt is in these moments of revelation and in the small details of the story that Zhang shows the deftness of her craft ... a treasure-trove of questions that devastate even as they beckon readers on.
PositivePloughsharesReaders are invited to wander through the associations Howe has made in the wake of a few simple lines ... unanswered questions are the method by which Howe crafts a multi-layered poetry, that, like love, comes in flashes but is never grasped ... Howe’s ability to make many meanings possible in her poetry is linked to what she sees as the possibilities of bewilderment ... It is clear that the stories being told are multifaceted, that readers are welcome to wander down any path of association that speaks to them. Howe, however, turns on its head the fear many readers have about not fully understanding poetry ... Another striking feature of Love and I is Howe’s ability to redefine words ... In the wilds of associations that Howe produces, readers are sure to find both niches of rest and, simultaneously, calls to action. But perhaps our only responsibility is to wander.
Eliane Brum, Trans. Diane Grosklaus Whitty
RavePloughshares... a sweeping collection committed to making the voice of the Other heard ... Perhaps most striking in Brum’s work is her prose ... Brum asks readers to identify with the humanity she reveals in each of her subjects ... Brum’s collection shows the dance that occurs between a journalist and her subjects in the course of their shared conversations. Her writing is an exercise in compassion in its truest form—she’s willing to \'suffer with\' and to reveal the suffering of both her subjects and herself. Readers are not spared the painful details ... In confirming the humanity of those whom we might easily overlook, Brum’s writing is a call to greater awareness of the lives around us ... is both reportage and a challenge to those of us living lives of comfort and privilege. She asks us to step out of our worlds, to join her in her quest of becoming an \'intimate foreigner\' in the lives of others. In the worlds we enter in these stories, our task is to be the reporter Brum strives to be: one who mostly listens.
PositivePloughsharesPerhaps most powerful in the book is Almada’s focus on detail—she skillfully renders the story of a day in brief chapters that reveal the thoughts and fleeting encounters of characters, who are largely living inside themselves, throughout the course of the story ... in incorporating the mundane details of life, Almada renders a realism that is almost tragic. Because her characters engage in relatively guarded conversations with each other, memory and the unsaid are the most compelling and haunting elements of this book ... The story ends in a way reminiscent of Flannery O’Connor’s work: readers are left to unearth the mystery of what has happened, what is left in the wake of the storm ... Though readers may leave this story with more questions than answers, Almada’s aim is not to wrap up loose ends but rather to make clear that the loose ends are what make this story important.
PositivePloughsharesReyn weaves throughout Nadia’s story a compelling perspective on twenty-first century motherhood that ricochets between East and West ... Because physical and psychic separation exist between Nadia and Larisska through the bulk of the novel, a sense of loneliness permeates the narrative ... Reyn masterfully draws readers into the constancy of memory throughout the novel, making Ukraine and moments of Nadia’s past life just as present to Nadia as her daily life and work ... a history of a mother’s indomitable love, and the ability to, on a personal level, make peace.
PositivePloughsharesMothers Over Nangarhar...presents readers with the inadequacy of language to describe war in the lives of individuals; specifically, individuals whose loved ones are serving in the military ... Yet for all that language cannot express, through the various speakers of these poems, Hart utilizes strong verbs to express the action that can be taken even when words fail ... While verbs activate movement and direction for the speakers within these poems, Hart also utilizes verbs to express absence, and the effects of war on both soldiers and their family members ... Though language cannot encompass the enormity of war’s influence, it can still bring us as close as possible to expressing the inexpressible. This Hart does masterfully through an array of voices, all of whom echo and reecho what it means to survive and communicate war.
Ursula K Le Guin
PositivePloughsharesThe poems are aware of the earth, the human connection to the earth, and the beauty of what cannot be known now ... Such perspective becomes cosmic ... Readers enter the speaker’s dreams, the waking hours, and the spaces in between ... Thematically, the unknown occupies a great deal of space throughout the poems ... The uncertainty of the poems, their dreamlike quality, is spun over readers again and again. The themes are accentuated by short, alliterative lines in which sound haunts just as much as the subject matter does ... In an intriguing way, So Far So Good frees the speaker from the traditional moorings of time and space. Like a time traveler, the speaker moves through memory into spaces beyond her understanding ... Readers who rest in these meditative poems are sure to find the voice of the beloved Le Guin just as intriguing as they did in her prose.