PositiveThe NationBonsai is a delightful work...A love story that’s both wry and melancholy...Bonsai doesn’t just mock its characters’ fantasies and deceptions; it also shows how such chimera are necessary to their happiness, and their undoing...If Bonsai were a building, it’d look rather like the Centre Georges Pompidou, all its mechanicals exposed and painted bright primary colors rather than hidden behind the walls...Zambra wants not only to explore conflict and emotion but also to revel in the medium that allows him to express these things.
Marcial Gala, tr. Anne Kushner
RaveThe New York Times Book Review... dazzling ... Deftly pushing the boundaries of both realism and first-person perspective, Gala makes it impossible for the reader to determine if Raúl/Cassandra is actually supernatural or if the character’s visions are a Mittyish reaction to the many humiliations and brutalities that he/she must endure ... Gala constructs sentences and scenes that swing easily from the mythological to the mundane, and Anna Kushner’s translation does a wonderful job of capturing his tones — and his temporal shifts.
PositiveThe Washington PostWhat makes Pearlman so good? Like [Joan] Didion, she’s a master of the spare sentence, of the restrained emotion ... But where Didion’s detachment can feel ruthless, Pearlman’s is largely compassionate, sometimes even faintly amused. It is the detachment of a good psychologist or a favorite aunt, the kind whose home you want to visit again and again ... Pearlman’s characters rarely buckle under disappointment. Their accommodations are not about turning tail; they allow ways of continuing forward ... Pearlman’s characters are mostly solitary animals, who prize their independence even as they seek and enjoy the company of others. Yet many of them hold to a kind of moral standard.
RaveNPRIf I tell you that Juan Gabriel Vasquez's exquisite novel The Sound of Things Falling is about the drug trade in Colombia, a few stock images might arise in your mind...but Vasquez was born in Colombia in 1973 — the same year that President Nixon created the Drug Enforcement Administration — and he has a different story for us altogether … His whole generation suffers from PTSD. Vasquez documents this trauma with the precision of a pathologist. The panic attacks, the impotence, the decade spent indoors because ‘houses of friends, of friends of friends, distant acquaintances — any house was better than a public place.’ Fear is the novel's great, hypnotic subject.
RaveBookforumDíaz sings straight to the heart of urban Spanglish, and he’s not waiting for outsiders to catch up. His Spanish is untranslated, as is his freestyle hip-hop slang. Clearly, he’s writing for his people—Dominicans on the island and around New York City—and as far as he’s concerned, everyone else is just listening in … One of the most perceptive things about Díaz’s novel is the way it shows how machismo can crush both the men who don’t conform and those who do … Díaz combines heartbreaking realism with the wildest sort of comic-book fantasy, moving beyond the surrealism of Borges and Cortázar and the magical realism of Márquez and Allende to break new ground. Call it comix realism— it gives Díaz a tremendous verbal and emotional range.