PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewShifting from Autumn to Winter, and then plunging on through the rest of the year, Smith is the one doing the telling, which means the books can’t help connecting through various channels, most notably her vast supply of preoccupations … The sitcom trope is deposited lightly: Smith is comfortable with the setup, just as she is with her pop culture references. She seems genuinely interested in them because she is interested in the entire culture and its shifts, both glacial and volcanic … Smith seems to be using her cycle as a way to process the larger trauma of our breaking, swirling world — over time, over human moments, over seasons. Each novel will give her a new chance to inspect her preoccupations in a different light. In Winter, the light inside this great novelist’s gorgeous snow globe is utterly original, and it definitely illuminates.
RaveNPR...in her new collection of stories, Margaret Atwood emphasizes one particular Atwood quality, which, for lack of a better word, I'll call 'wicked' ... Because this is a Margaret Atwood book, a lot here is pretty astonishing. Atwood explains, in her acknowledgements, that these stories are 'tales,' and that they 'owe a debt to tales through the ages' ... She seems to be addressing, in these stories, the way we all roll around, generation after generation, on nothing more than a big slab of rock, doing various unspeakable human things to one another ...strange, sharp and wild stories, which take on death and dreadfulness and the uses of fantasy.
PositiveNPRFor a while, reading Family Life is a little bit like drowning. I felt swallowed up by the oppressive despair of the Mishras. And all the excitement of American television with ‘programming from morning till night’ or a library where you could check out as many books as you wanted, is now replaced by descriptions of seizures and suffering … [Sharma] takes a simple, emotionally difficult story and makes the reader brave the ongoing pain and become fully absorbed. He does this through Ajay's very specific, adolescent and authentic voice … Though Birju and his parents can never escape their situation, Ajay can. And when he eventually grows up and leaves his parents and brother, he gets a chance to have his own life, and also to provide for his brother in a way his parents never could.
PositiveNPRThe story, which takes place in Chechnya, moving back and forth in time over recent history, includes some tough scenes, such as descriptions of torture and amputation. There's a terrifying, Wild West lawlessness at work. But it's exactly that — and the brilliant writing — that kept me committed to that world and the people in it … You can almost feel his desire to pull loose ends together, and I don't blame him, for the material he's working with often lacks order and reason. But he really doesn't need to try so hard in those moments. The writing moves us forward, as do the characters, who to stay sane sometimes need to burrow into the past.
PositiveNPRIf you've read Cloud Atlas, then you know that what happens in a David Mitchell novel is often wild and complicated, and completely unexpected. This is true of his latest book, which is broken up into six sections, all of which loop back and around to give us another decade in the life of the book's main character, Holly Sykes … Time keeps pulsing ahead in The Bone Clocks, and Mitchell pushes his cast of characters into the future, ending the book in a terrifying world. But for all the dystopia, and the mysticism, and the wild and clanging noise, and the flights of invention that have taken place in this extraordinary fun house of a novel, Mitchell's novel-writing rules allow him to retain his great sensitivity toward his main character from start to finish.
RaveNPRJust the title alone sounds Murakami-like — weird and inviting. Tsukuru has 'no deep interest in the arts, no hobby or special skill ... he blushed easily, wasn't especially outgoing, and could never relax around people he'd just met.' ... There's such a modest, reluctant quality to this character, a drifting uncertainty that is both infuriating and identifiably human. Why Tsukuru's friends dropped him is the central mystery driving this novel ... Over the course of the pilgrimage there are moments of gorgeous, contemplative prose ... Still, the simplicity and depth of Murakami's work give it its irresistible quality ... Colorless Tsukuru's mystery is solved before the end, but the mystery of the spell that the great Murakami casts over his readers, myself included, goes, as ever, unsolved. The novel feels like a riddle, a puzzle, or maybe, actually, more like a haiku: full of beauty, strangeness, and color, thousands of syllables long.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review...[a] funny, smart, emotionally reverberant novel ... [the] mash-up of high and low isn’t jolting to the reader. In fact, it’s a Semple specialty ... The success of this poetic, seriously funny and brainy dream of a novel has to do with Maria Semple’s range of riffs and preoccupations. All kinds of details, painful and perverse and deeply droll, cling to her heroine and are appraised and examined and skewered and simply wondered at.
RaveNPRIt's no surprise that so many of Link's characters are deeply entrenched in adolescence, as this is itself a time of transformation, when one kind of magic will no longer do, and needs to be replaced with another. When she ventures away from adolescence, though, I occasionally found myself less connected ... Link perfectly mimics the cadences of teenagers talking to one another, the sniping and jealousy and longing ... As a writer, Link knows there's nothing she's 'supposed' to do; her imaginative freedom is unmitigated by a need to counterbalance the weirdness with explanation. 'Don't explain,' Billie Holiday used to sing, and Kelly Link concurs.