RaveThe Christian Science Monitor\"Weiss wonderfully describes the drama in the Tennessee statehouse that day: crowds packed into the visitors’ gallery, the Suffs draped in saffron, and the Antis wearing red flowers. When the vote finally came, a mother’s letter and a last-minute defection were game changers so unexpected that for a few minutes history reads like outlandish fiction.\
Pietro Bartolo and Lidia Tilotta, Trans. by Chenxin Jiang
RaveThe Christian Science MonitorYou would think that this [the unfortunate events that\'ve happened to the refugees] would make Bartolo’s brief memoir, Tears of Salt (written with Lidia Tilotta), almost unreadable and, in fact, there is much in this book that is hard to process. Yet I would argue that it’s a work not to be missed ... Not only does Bartolo shake the world’s complacency...but he also limns his narrative with great compassion and humanity ...Bartolo’s book serves as a powerful reminder of a very different kind of human response. His passionate advocacy on behalf of the flood of strangers continually showing up on his shores is deeply moving. One can only hope that it will prove contagious.
RaveThe Christian Science MonitorIs there any way to measure a fear so overwhelming that it becomes a part of national culture? That seems to be the question troubling Colombian novelist Juan Gabriel Vásquez in The Sound of Things Falling … Vásquez’s narrative is taut and somber and depicts a world forever in the shadows. The Bogotá he shows us is a ‘city of sly, shrewd people.’ When Elaine first writes home to her grandparents in the United States to share her initial impressions (‘Nobody warned me Bogotá was going to be like this’), there are already hints of disaster ahead … There can be no understanding without looking back. But at the same time, the act of remembering brings a paralysis that shuts out the future.
RaveThe Christian Science MonitorIt is populated by characters who are mostly either exiles, eccentrics, or both. It is a work full of color and comedy, even as it challenges all to face the same heart-wrenching questions that haunt the immigrant: Who am I? Where do I belong? … Nothing sours the warm heart at the center of this novel. Desai is sometimes compared to Salman Rushdie, and the energy and fecundity of imagination in her works do make them somewhat akin to his. But the tenderness in her novels is all her own … The story that Desai offers us includes a hard look at physical poverty, but that's not the only kind her characters come to recognize. No one in this book easily comes by the sense of belonging that all seem to crave.
RaveThe Christian Science MonitorTinkers is a finely crafted piece of work by a writer who clearly respects his own trade. In fact, what it most resembles is one of the antique clocks that the book’s protagonist so lovingly repairs. This is a book so meticulously assembled that vocabulary choices like ‘craquelure’ and ‘scrieved’ – far from seeming pretentious – serve as reminders of how precise and powerful a tool good English can be … But what gives this slender book its sweetness is a ribbon of beauty and the occasional surprise jolt of ‘major kindness.’ Tinkers is slow to boil. Its feel is anything but commercial. Perhaps that’s why it was so slow to find a publisher – and so quick to earn a prize.
RaveThe Christian Science MonitorA writer all her life (Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Democracy, A Book of Common Prayer among others), few are more expert than Didion at cleanly parsing thoughts and feelings ... What she has produced, with remarkable clarity, is a record of her thoughts and feelings during her first year of bereavement ... If Didion's narrative sounds heartrending, it is — utterly so. But at the same time, it is a work of much majesty ... But The Year of Magical Thinking is also something more...it is particularly touching to read about a decades-long partnership that thrived ... We her readers are left simply to admire both her bravery and her skill, and to offer whatever intelligent compassion we can from afar.
PositiveThe Christian Science Monitor[Mantel] wades into the dark currents of 16th-century English politics to sculpt a drama and a protagonist with a surprisingly contemporary feel … Mantel does an excellent job of rendering both the tedium and the tension surrounding Henry’s long stand-off with the church. Lives and reputations are at stake – as is nothing less than the future of England – and we are never allowed to forget this … She builds Cromwell with layers of detail accrued from multiple viewpoints. We see him jousting with ambassadors, gently teasing an imprisoned princess, and worrying about the character of his son.