PositiveThe Boston GlobeYanique has set out to write the epic of this region and culture, and in fact this book deserves better than to be labeled with last-century publishing buzzwords ... Here is the stuff of legend, tremendously amplified by the oral history culture of the islands. Magical realism might better have been called legendary realism from the start. Caribbean novelists have not much deployed it (they have their own variations on obeah to work with), but Yanique has helped herself to Gabriel Garcia Márquez’s toolbox ... Yanique has borrowed a few pieces of furniture from the Southern Gothic attic. In place of Faulkner’s preoccupation with miscegenation (sheer nonsense in Yanique’s fictional world), there is incest, a recurring motif among the Bradshaws ... This novel builds its best effects rather slowly, but in the end Yanique succeeds in evoking the panorama of the Virgin Islands in a voice all her own.
Mario Vargas Llosa, Trans. by Edith Grossman
PositiveThe Los Angeles TimesWhat we are brought to see at the end of this novel is the ultimate horror of the Trujillo regime: Not so much that he raped people's daughters but that his power was so total and pervasive that he could get people to cooperate, voluntarily, in the raping of their own daughters. His artfulness in turning all Dominicans into accomplices in their own ruin explains why Trujillo seems in some way invulnerable to death and why the terrible wounds he opened in the lives of his people take more than one generation to heal … In The Feast of The Goat, Vargas Llosa paints a portrait that is darkly comic, poignant, admirable and horrifying all at once.
PositiveThe New York Times Sunday Book ReviewMarra’s timeline runs from 1994 to 2004, but the larger story is much, much deeper. This novel is, among other things, a meditation on the use and abuse of history, and an inquiry into the extent to which acts of memory may also constitute acts of survival … The novel is peppered with these short detours into the pasts or futures of characters who momentarily cross paths with the principals. It’s one of Marra’s ways of holding the value of human wishes against their vanity. There’s a constant impulse to retrieve and affirm what was, though acts of remembrance are themselves evanescent … While reminding us of the worst of the war-torn world we live in, Marra finds sustainable hope in the survival of a very few, and in the regenerative possibility of life in its essential form.
RaveThe Boston GlobeVernon has a gift for wordplay that would keep the shade of James Joyce amused, and the strongest motives for his fast, desperate talk, because he's wrongly accused in a schoolyard slaughter in Martirio, Texas, which has left all other witnesses and the real shooter dead … Vernon's wicked eye and still more wicked tongue crank the banalities of small-town Southern life into a corkscrew of the grotesque. Socially impaired by, among other things, an incontinence problem, Vernon is the sort of teenager who experiences adolescence as a horror movie even before the real horrors begin … Remarkably, the novel can successfully blend this sort of hyperbolic lampoon with as many moments of deep authenticity. The marvelously agile and flexible language Pierre puts in Vernon's mouth makes it happen. The juvenile nastiness of Vernon's speech is one of the truest things about it, but his voice is also capable of poetry, extended metaphor, even metaphysical conceit.
RaveThe Boston GlobeThe Sport of Kings is a novel about breeding Kentucky livestock, both animal and human. In the latter dimension it inevitably draws in race, racism, and the legacy of slavery; in its aspect of generational saga, it covers the experience of slavery directly. Stated this way, the concept of the book might sound effective but crude, but the magnificence of C.E. Morgan’s writing makes it something else altogether...Her concerns are Faulknerian in scope, or maybe even larger; while she shares Faulkner’s sense of property (human and other) as a sin afflicting the region, she also does not hesitate to delve into geological time, as well as mining the deep veins of human history, and all of it dovetails with the main saga.
PositiveThe Boston GlobeThis sort of ambition — how vast an illusion can I build and maintain here? — is part of what makes Irving such a prodigious entertainer. At the same time there are figures of real pathos braided in and out of the narrative.