PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... [a] rich, ambitious debut novel ... Each character gives Card a fresh opportunity to play with form: Chapters shapeshift here into historical fiction, there into folklore ... Card deftly grounds these experiments in subtle details that reveal history’s imprint on everyday family life ... Occasionally, the novel’s sheer breadth takes a toll on the prose, flattening complex emotions in particular into cliché ... Card’s ghosts bracingly remind us that no family history is comprehensive, that some riddles of ancestry and heritage persist beyond this lifetime.
Viet Thanh Nguyen
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewTo illustrate their plight, Nguyen homes in on their bodies rather than their words, so that a more accurate description of what the book does is 'give flesh' to characters at risk of fading from memory, sometimes their own ... As concerned with the aftershocks of war as with war itself, The Refugees mostly elides grisly scenes like the bombings, killings, rapes and tortures that fill Nguyen’s spectacular Pulitzer-winning debut novel, The Sympathizer ... If at times I found myself missing the playful, voice-driven punch of The Sympathizer, it’s a tribute to Nguyen’s range that these eight stories cast a quieter, but no less devastating, spell. The collection’s subtle, attentive prose and straightforward narrative style perfectly suit the low-profile civilian lives it explores (the only military personnel here have long retired). With the volume turned down, we lean in more closely, listening beyond what the refugees say to step into their skins.