PositiveThe Irish Times (IRE)Despite so many characters, the novel doesn’t flail, it succeeds as a force ... To direct so many through a labyrinthine story in just over 300 pages is a kind of mastery. The careful ingredients of Hot Stew combine to expose the potency of old narratives ... in every conceptual detail, possibly to exhaustion, Hot Stew presses its truth about sex. Or maybe it doesn’t—maybe that sensation is less the writer’s touch and more the reader’s eye: once you see it, it’s everywhere.
Emily St. John Mandel
RaveThe Irish Times (IRE)It’s hard to see at first, but the conceit’s logic is solid ... The novel is rife with reflections, dimensions, and layered perspectives ... One of the triumphs of the book, then, is that the reading experience isn’t heavied by concept. At times the many structural divisions-titled sections within chapters, chapters within parts, seem to be a map for the writer more than the reader, but generally the scaffolding supports the spectacle without obscuring it ... reads evenly and the gaps feel intentional; Paul disappears for much of the story, but this is justified by theme and structure, the sensation of circling forward and back ... Mandel’s prose is restrained, beautiful for its observation and precision rather than its flourish. The style prevents the larger-than-life ideas from falling off balance ... Whether or not the Ponzi scheme can hold isn’t what propels The Glass Hotel. Rather, the novel explores the phenomenon of being beholden to a centre, to a conscience, to a perception of normality and time. If the centre fails, that hold can remain as a kind of haunting, one which occurs in our starkest reality ... Then again, Mandel’s work deals in catastrophe which means it looks for hope. The other way to read The Glass Hotel might be as an offering of possibility: when life as we know it fails, there’s always another one out there.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review... [an] Odyssean debut novel ... a book about the midcentury American West, gambling and queer love; but it doesn’t follow the plow of stories from any of these territories. Pufahl’s voice is strikingly solid, timeworn but not nostalgic, as she unravels a cinematic story that avoids genre clichés or sentimentality ... After the fast clip of the first section, the novel unfurls in [the] steady mode of parallel pursuits. It becomes two love stories — neither quite romantic, but rather about twin passions that are both discordant with their time ... Pufahl’s love stories are of the postwar era, but they aren’t intended to reflect it ... It’s Pufahl’s extraordinary fidelity to her characters that compels the reader through the book ... The revelation at which Muriel and the reader arrive is not new, but it is timeless.
Roberto Bolano, Trans. by Natasha Wimmer
MixedThe Irish Times\"Despite its billing, The Spirit of Science Fiction reads less like something new and introductory, and more like a promising turn taken too soon ... Thanks to Wimmer, the English translation of The Spirit of Science Fiction retains the mercurial poetry and quiet, satirical humour of Bolaño’s voice and style ... The complexity of Bolaño’s later writing works because it is precise. The Spirit of Science Fiction lacks this precision ... Bolaño does his signature pirouettes around the pages of The Spirit of Science Fiction, but they are his small-stage practice. The true performance was yet to come.\