RaveLambda LiteraryCaustic and biting ... an unflinching look at the manifold ways girls and young women adroitly navigate a culture determined to demean them ... Parsons’s especially talented at capturing the nuances of intense bonds formed by teens on the cusp of adulthood ... The author’s strange, sharp style is mesmerizing. Her terse language recalls the minimalism of Amy Hempel, while her penchant for bizarre imagery, so often involving glowing light, brings to mind the fantastical tales of Carmen Maria Machado ... the debut surely signals the start of a promising career as a fiction writer for Parsons.
PositiveThe MillionsThoughtful and tender ... Sketching a moving portrait of a fraught bond, Vuong meditates on the powers of storytelling and reckons with the legacy of collective trauma ... As a mosaic of portraiture, self-representation, and philosophical musing, the opening chapter signals what lies ahead: a fragmented, elliptical text that moves around in time and considers the emotional toll of war and displacement upon Vietnamese Americans. In poetic prose, Little Dog’s letter charts not just his coming-of-age story but also the sorrows and desires of those closest to him ... At a mesmerizing pace, Little Dog speeds through memories of late-night strolls, inexhaustible conversations, covert sex, and hits of weed and cocaine. Embedded within the narrative are bittersweet, lush descriptions of Hartford’s countryside ... While rarely citing his sources, Little Dog navigates troubling topics by using as guideposts the works of a diverse mix of writers ... Through such allusions he frames himself as curious, open minded, and in conversation with a vast body of literature ... Regardless of the truth-value assigned to On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, the work’s an affecting meditation on immigration, violence, family, and love, as well as a thoughtful exploration of the ways in which writing can reshape the self’s relationship to others and the past. With grace and insight, Vuong contemplates how memory can act as a tool for change, and establishes himself as a promising novelist.
Philippe Besson, trans. by Molly Ringwald
PositiveLambda LiteraryThe work’s simplicity dissolves as the narrative unfolds, though, and it becomes clear that Besson’s written a thoughtful examination of the ways social class shapes the experience and memory of love ... [Lie With Me] brings to life the pain and endurance of a population that’s been suffering attacks on social welfare and living conditions for decades ... This kind of narrative’s well worn, and a large part of what makes Lie With Me memorable is the novel’s experimental form ... Molly Ringwald’s spare translation of the novel is moving ... Introspective and evocative, Lie With Me is an absorbing story about passionate love thwarted by class differences and homophobia. The slim novel takes on a great deal in a short amount of space and establishes Molly Ringwald as a skilled translator.
RaveLambda LiteraryRush’s incisive humor livens up the bleak narrative, and he captures the eccentricities and quirks of the many people he encountered as a teen...Most notably, his characterization of his parents is evenhanded and sympathetic, humanizing figures that initially appear neglectful and larger than life ... The memoir speeds by in a mesmerizing blur...the narrative moves at a rapid pace, and the memoir hardly feels close to four hundred pages. The dialogue is consistently quick-witted and sharp, the descriptions evocative and surreal. Rush has a real talent for fully rendering dynamic personalities and extraordinary landscapes ... The book, while marketed as a straight forward memoir, is an expertly crafted, elevated piece of writing.The narrative feels artfully arranged and experimental in form. Rush has written an expansive life narrative, full of brilliant observations, and it’s hard to believe that this is only his first book. Signaling the debut of a talented writer, The Light Years sketches an unforgettable portrait of a turbulent time.
PositiveLambda Literary\"Introspective and understated ... In terse prose, author Bryan Washington fully renders the inner lives of gay men struggling to endure the hardships of poverty and racism, while also sketching a nuanced portrait of a rapidly gentrifying city ... Washington excels at emotional subtlety. In spite of the stories’ sensational premises, the dialogue is spare, the prose minimalist, the scenes tightly plotted ... [Washington\'s] minimalist style is understandably light on sensory details, though, and it doesn’t lend itself well to evoking a strong sense of atmosphere. Instead, the collection offers a series of powerfully affecting character studies ... Bryan Washington has a knack for writing subtle stories with impactful endings, and his career seems poised for success.\
Gary Eldon Peter
MixedLambda LiteraryWarmhearted and thoughtful, Peter is at his best when he’s attending to the nuances of Michael’s close relationships. Whether charting Michael’s clumsy interactions with his father at a retirement home or detailing the sundry ways he tries to brighten Kevin’s last days, the author manages to make each relationship feel fresh and distinct from the rest. The best stories in the collection are those that show Michael successfully closing the distance between him and a loved one, after a period of emotional or physical separation. As sweet as the stories are, they sometimes enter the realm of the saccharine. Conflict rarely erupts across these tales, often appearing only as a distant threat. The stories also tend to be a bit too well plotted, and the endings are uniformly forward looking and hopeful, even in the face of great loss ... In spite of some blemishes, Oranges is still promising as a debut collection. Peter is talented at ho[m]ing in on small moments that reveal character, and he sensitively captures the quietude of life in the Midwest ... From his straightforward language to his penchant for precious endings, the author brushes aside cleverness and cynicism at every turn, and his stories earnestly depict an endless longing for human connection against the backdrop of a placid landscape.
RaveLambda Literary\"Rich in allusions to sources as diverse as African myth and Gabriel García Márquez, the novel mercilessly parodies the conventions of fantasy ... Black Leopard, Red Wolf offers a nuanced portrayal of the intimate bond between the two eponymous Black heroes as they struggle to survive, communicate, and love in an era beset by armed conflict. As the first installment in James’s The Dark Star Trilogy, it successfully introduces readers to a civilization in crisis, populated by troubled mercenaries, unforgiving elites, and fantastical creatures. The novel is inexpressibly compelling, and the trilogy seems sure to become a genre-bending classic.\