RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewTold from a close distance, these stories lack the rich patina of hindsight, their pleasures coming instead from an immediacy and an engaging voice. They evoke the thrill of an all-night conversation with your hip, frank, funny college roommate ... Rather than limiting the collection’s gaze, this perspective amplifies the universal pitfalls of coming of age in 21st-century America ... Evans hits a deep vein just below the Mason-Dixon, especially in her exploration of how an immigrant population has tangled the color line.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewIn nonliterate societies, minstrels occupy a place of power, both as guards of the people’s history and remodelers of the myths they tell. The protagonist of Scribe is a refreshing version of this ancient archetype, largely because she is a she ... As befits this allegory, the prose is sensuous. This is a novel written in dreamily violent language ... The violence is not solely stylistic; entering Hagy’s brutalized America, the reader must be prepared for a society where life has no value. Hagy goes to great lengths to decontextualize her narrative and de-linearize time, both to underscore the perennial aspects of human nature and to create a mythlike atmosphere for her patchwork of retold tales and war lore. Unfortunately, these methods can amplify reader disorientation. In better moments, the blurred landscape and timescape allow the language to become as lulling as an incantation. Scribe, which begins with the baying of hounds and ends with silence, reminds us on every page that humans remain the storytelling animal, and that therein might lie our salvation. But the book’s momentum derives from the relationship between the protagonist and [a mysterious man named] Hendricks ... In this brave new world, a woman with a pen may prove mightier than a man with a sword.