RaveSan Francisco ChronicleIts vast emotional depth, rich historical understanding and revelatory pacing lure the reader into the tender makeup of one family’s origin and promise ... As the novel progresses, the perspectives flow in and out of chronological order ... Woodson masterfully yields the story to its natural flow; someone’s death might be revealed in one section only for the catalyst, the early traces of it, to unfold later. Here, her signature recasting of time emphasizes how vulnerable we all are without knowing ... The book is infused with history, with the overt and subtle racism passed down through generations, with the full expression of blackness that has soared anyway.
De'Shawn Charles Winslow
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewFrom the first page, Winslow establishes an uncanny authority and profound tone that belie the book’s debut status. The precision and charm of his language lure us in and soothe us ... He paints a community so tightknit and thorough it becomes easy to forget the people in it don’t exist ... Knot is as complex and endearing a protagonist as Zora Neale Hurston’s Janie. And Winslow is capable of retreating into the quiet of all of his characters’ minds and hearts and sharing the contents with us ... Much of the story is told through dialogue, rich and truthful conversations ... Like Dickens’s, Winslow’s characters are steeped in secrets, but here the reader knows most of them; the reader’s satisfaction doesn’t come from what will unfold, but from how it will.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review... almost every chapter in The Gone Dead yields a surprise ... The author excels at capturing authentic turns of phrase ... Benz’s ability to assume a vast array of distinct, heartfelt voices, her knack for understanding and revealing complex human behavior ... Benz’s Delta is portrayed with care and depth ... She traces with nuance and subtlety the stagnant trail of race relations, linking mass incarceration, mandatory minimums, unemployment and crack to anti-miscegenation laws, Freedom Rides and even the South’s loss in the Civil War. Her attention to the recurring nature of racism in this country, and her gift for weaving these insights into a gripping narrative, establish Benz as an adept critic and storyteller.
C. Morgan Babst
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review\"Sometimes the sense of loss becomes almost oppressive. In reality the storm’s impact was unrelenting, no doubt, but Babst is most effective at conveying the emotional weight of the tragedy when she presents it alongside vibrant characters and story lines ... Any novel of the South has to grapple with race at least implicitly, and The Floating World doesn’t shy from the subject... So it was wise on Babst’s part to introduce the poorer Troy and Reyna to a book about Katrina — a storm that touched so many poor African-American lives, after all. Unfortunately, Reyna rarely rises above stereotype, either sentimentalized by Cora or demonized by Troy ... Still anyone who has experienced loss will be hard hit by Babst’s expert descriptions.\