PositiveForeward ReviewsA raucous joyride across the red planet. It discombobulates for the fun of it, and is sly in raising issues of voyeurism, consumerism, and the unholy combination of moneyed interests with science. Sweetness and melancholy wend into otherwise dire situations. A geologist learns to knit booties while the Martians try to make first contact; a technical engineer flirts with anarchy ... The combination is irresistible fun. Through its heartbreaks and surprises, How to Mars is an interplanetary delight.
Kateřina Tučková tr. by Véronique Firkusny
RaveForeword ReviewsKateřina Tučková’s Gerta is a startling, significant historical novel set during and after the violent postwar expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia ... Gerta is an unflinching story that gathers the brutalities of the postwar years with a sense of purpose. It avoids overt moral declarations ... The book’s quiet exposure of the ironies of the Eastern communist states, which traded outside oppressions for their own forms of violence, is striking. Written with empathy for the unsung innocents who suffer under the mechanizations of nationalist projects, Gerta is a powerful historical novel.
Issac J. Bailey
RaveForeword ReviewsThe essays of Issac J. Bailey’s Why Didn’t We Riot? are incisive as they confront the realities of systemic racism in America and in the age of Donald Trump ... The book is replete with reminders of established inequalities. It reveals racism in the justice system with an essay about a wrongly convicted man whose trial reflects the degree to which judges, juries, prosecutors, and sentencing guidelines work against Black Americans. It exposes the microaggressions that Bailey has been subject to, including suggestions that his successes are proof against systemic issues ... The title question hangs over the book’s deliberate accounting of Black marginalization, unanswerable if logic is applied. By the book’s end, a \'communal scream\' is called for, rendering Issac J. Bailey’s essays essential reading.
Doireann Ní Ghríofa
RaveForeword Reviews... an extraordinary literary memoir that finds life in buried spaces ... Feminist and feminine, A Ghost in the Throat gives defiant voice to hushed womanhood, in all of its pain and glory. Her images incandescent and brutal ... A Ghost in the Throat is an achingly gorgeous literary exploration that establishes a sisterhood across generations.
PositiveForeword Reviews... [Rosie\'s] transformation is moving. Still, some of Rosie’s later conflicts are gratuitous ancillaries to her story, present most to force Rosie to opine on social topics; in particular, her initially resentful reaction toward a transwoman weighs down her otherwise buoyant pursuit of self. The Hare is a bold and authentic novel concerned with the time-consuming, socially defiant, and brutal work of women’s self-actualization.
RaveForeword ReviewsFrom the depths of the sea to neighboring planets, no destination is off limits in Anneliese Mackintosh’s thrilling feminist adventure novel ... Bright and Dangerous Objects plays with contrasts: its language is wispy and alluring, while its possibilities are sobering and sharp. Solvig, who defies death in a needful way, butts against social limitations on a near constant basis, learning that modern womanhood may offer more, but it is still subject to constraints. She loves, but she longs for freedom; she can imagine herself as a mother, but she needs to believe that adventures are still possible postpartum ... In the resplendent novel Bright and Dangerous Objects, a heroine longs for a one-way ticket to space.
RaveForeword ReviewsPropelled by apt psychological metaphors and tantalizing clues about Eleanor’s early heartbreaks, this mystery holds its audience rapt. Juxtapositions of in-the-moment holiday failures and substance errors with those of bleak Christmases past help to keep the book’s timelines vibrant and disturbing; as much as Arabella’s secrets are intriguing, so are Eleanor’s family’s pains. The revelation of what happened to Eleanor when she was nine has as much to do with solving Arabella’s murder as it does with her own healing. Old wounds have to be reopened in service of the truth in the thrilling mystery novel The Hidden Hours.
RaveForeword Reviews...delicate, poignant ... Spare but decked with moments of crystalline beauty, the book’s descriptions of farming the Maine countryside are authentic and enchanting. There are no ostentatious displays, and so the novel’s magnificence sneaks up ... gorgeous and moving.
PositiveForeword ReviewsThe text’s gestures to contemporary developments and discontents are evocative. It draws upon Occupy Wall Street, criticisms of neoliberalism, the affronts represented by the presidency of Donald Trump, and New York cultural mainstays, including Sex and the City. It pushes concerns about social media and data sourcing to their logical conclusions, but tempers its inventive technological advancements with the relics that even those thirsty for the future refuse to release—racism and classism prominent among them. WIlson’s novel is incisive in its deconstructions of generational contradictions. As its earnest leads laud fairness but establish themselves as the greatest impediments to progress, Sensation Machines nods to the adage that, the more circumstances change, the more they stay the same.
PositiveForeword Reviews... piercing ... Even more engrossing than the book’s persistent mysteries is Bonner’s hunger to understand her enigmatic sister, and to populate the empty spaces that Atlantis opened in the universe with truths. Resisting definitive pronouncements, The Book of Atlantis Black assumes the qualities of the departed musician herself: marked by yearning, it revolves around absences and is irresistible to the end.
Kelli Jo Ford
RaveForeword Reviews... [a] masterpiece ... Even through its harsh circumstances and looming disappointments, Crooked Hallelujah/ maintains a sense of hope, centering the women as sources of light in the tiny communities where they land. Its closing scenes are overt in their biblical tie-ins, but also so consistent with what precedes them that they force rear-gazing considerations: was the divine present in every event of the women’s lives after all? Or was it their fierce, life-giving love for one another that most warranted emulation and awe? ... Its events like psalms for mother-daughter bonds, Kelli Jo Ford’s novel celebrates bold, everyday acts of enduring love.
RaveForeword Reviews... visionary ... Eerie biblical illusions—to crucifixions; old lives left behind; angels, saviors, and tormentors; and plagues and resurrections—couple with stark, realistic examples of how human beings behave when they’re pushed past the familiar. That its young cast remains so centered, even as waters rise and systems collapse around them, is part of what makes this atypical cli-fi novel so riveting.
Tina May Hall
RaveForeword Reviews... intoxicating ... the text has heirloom sensibilities. Henna narrates, her purling phrases functioning like dirge, memorializing words as they fade into silence and passion as it buzzes to its peaks. Her fascination with nineteenth-century snow collectors complements her own preoccupation with resisting impermanence and restraints. The evocative secondary cast [members]...each contribute to the book’s dreamy Gothic atmosphere, which is redolent of candlelight and incense, marked by damask decorations and houses ablaze against the snow. Its brutality tempered by its lovely phraseology, The Snow Collectors is an unusual mystery whose quirks are worth giving in to.
RaveForeword Reviews... deliciously tangled ... Its language at first a frenzied blur to match the thief’s desperation, and toward the end diffuse as it grasps for second chances, the book experiments with form in fascinating ways. Its characters rise and fall, then return again later, their scars and hardened shells exposed and complex. The end impression may be less flattering than Qin’s daughter would like, but it reveals certain truths, among them that every action must eventually be answered for.
Damien Angelica Walters
PositiveForeword ReviewsPsychological and disturbing, the story rips through sad reveals in its opening chapters, covering murder, abuse, and haunting memories ... There’s some melodrama and misdirection involved in the book’s progressions, though the dominant red herring leads to satisfying, scary scenes. Heather is a distressed but reliable narrator; her roiling emotions are palpable. Secondary characters are more subdued, in part because of the demons Heather’s wrestling during outwardly normal exchanges. Heartbreaking revelations jolt the book’s whispers of conjurings back to reality, and the ending is violent, cinematic, and just inconclusive enough to induce lasting chills.
Johannes Anyuru, Trans by. Saskia Vogel
RaveForeword ReviewsJohannes Anyuru’s stunning They Will Drown in Their Mothers’ Tears is a rare, powerful multiverse novel that reflects the best and worst of human potential ... Each one of the novel’s heartbreaking truths and possibilities flourishes in the gap between what might have been heard as a disavowal of faith and the mother’s last strained utterance of the shahada ... with its final revelation that is as dismaying as it is triumphant, is gorgeous, unforgettable speculative fiction.
RaveForeword Reviews... exquisite and strange ... a postmodern fairy tale, both whimsical and aching in its appeal ... Every careful step the story takes is magic ... Whether read as a romance, a fairy tale, a lament, or combinations of the three: The Dollmaker is a bewitching story.
PositiveForeword ReviewsImminently readable, wry, and informative, it is quintessential Theroux ... With awareness that Mexican travelogues previous have trended reductive, shallow, and safe, Theroux avoids easygoing beach days and sunny markets in favor of seeking the multifaceted soul of the nation, so different from state to state that it is almost a world unto itself ... The resultant impression is of a nation both vibrant and determined—at once subject to the whims of neighbors and strong all on its own.
RaveForeword ReviewsThe book’s science fiction elements scratch at the barriers between nightmares and dreams ... Both external and internal landscapes—including Florida orange groves in sweltering demise, the constrictions of womanhood, and deep space—are rendered with precision ... In the glorious and singular adventures of Light from Other Stars, such small pains may be as innumerable as the dots of fire that light our universe, but so, too, are possibilities. As the novel wends its way toward a Hawking-esque ending, it elicits wonder and sadness in turn.
PositiveForeword Reviews... all atmosphere and electricity ... Handler captures the period with evocative details. It’s an age in which the advent of electricity and burgeoning spiritual questions combine, priming people to believe in the impossible ... The story moves at a drawling pace, occupying Lulu’s mind and rendering her childhood concerns with clarity ... Lulu’s is a story on the precipice: of scientific discovery, of cultural evolution, and of increased autonomy for women. As a daughter of this dawning new world, Lulu captivates her way toward dismaying realizations, deadly conundrums, and new freedoms. Beyond its sleight of hand, The Magnetic Girl is a vintage tale about learning to harness your singular powers.
RaveForeword Reviews\"... magnificent ... an awesome and humbling literary achievement ... The text is triumphant, darkly humorous, and mournful by turns ... As its characters grasp for a concrete place to rest in a world that ever diverges from its set paths, Famous Men Who Never Lived is mesmerizing.\
PositiveForeword ReviewsViolent, heartbreaking, and starkly real ... a historically attuned novel for a world that has lost its way ... Details here are realistic, and their warnings are somber ... a novel with the edge of the thriller and the bleak rawness of a documentary—feral, needful, and unapologetic about the dark underbellies it reveals.
PositiveForeword ReviewsThe novel may fit the definition of a work of magical realism, but its appeal lies in its deeper truths ... The novel doesn’t lead with its politics, but it still functions beautifully as an ecofeminist allegory ... Elevated, elemental language moves the story along. In Bronwyn’s confrontations with nature, lines are both scientific and seductive. She gathers a small, appreciative, and awed cohort and travels far to explore her potential; it is a worthwhile trip, inviting celebration of—and activism to preserve—our one shared home.
Miquel Reina, Trans. by Catherine E. Nelson
PositiveForeword ReviewsMiquel Reina’s book is surrealistic and stark, unexpected and intimate by turns. As the Grapeses’ yellow house bobs toward the northernmost reaches of the planet, the story recalls Sara Gallardo’s Things Happen and functions as an extended allegory of loss, aging, and forgiveness.The text is replete with concrete and magical images: of a ship in a bottle that survives the crash, the aurora borealis dancing overhead, packed and flooded boxes, broken generators, stacked furs, and a hungry polar bear doing what hungry polar bears do. Some emotions feel exaggerated, some of the metaphors are overly sweet, and some of the realistic elements are underexplained, but the Grapeses’ story holds attention regardless. A novel in which a house may be a ship, and in which it’s never too late to start living, Lights on the Sea is a delightful trip.
RaveForeword ReviewsLavie Tidhar’s stunning science fiction adventure, Unholy Land, moves between incarnations of Jewish being with alacrity, hunger, and humility ... Political commentary is here, particularly in the Palestinian treatment of African refugees, seen in the world where the travelers and lawman meet. Still, it’s the details between realities that captivate ... Unholy Land is a wonder and a revelation—a work of science fiction capable of enthralling audiences across the multiverse.
PositiveForeword ReviewsThere’s an awesome openness to Woman World that cannot be denied; the triumph represented by a community flag whose symbol is Beyonce’s thighs is palpable. Woman World is proudly sex-positive and LGBTQ-affirming, diversity is a matter of course, and the only absolute directive is that you be yourself. But Dhaliwal is careful not to paint a world without men as an instant utopia; her use of color alone reveals that we’re a more vibrant species when the gang’s all here. The mostly blue, pink, and purple landscape turns gray scale when the Drs. Sharmas’ predictions come to pass. Color returns in short bursts—when the book depicts relics from the past; in an instance of extreme passion; when next generations learn to let their worry go and embrace what is ... Woman World is an often raucous and always moving project. It functions as a giant permission slip for every person to live authentically, external challenges be damned.
RaveForeword Reviews\"Chaya Bhuvaneswar’s stories are brooding, precise, and painful indictments of patriarchal cultures ... Colorism, homophobia, and racism toward and among women of color are frequent, acid themes. The details here are realistic and sharp: observations of \'sausage-casing cleavage\'; of books so fine that \'a good wind would blow away the words\'; of gilt frames and expensive fabrics and baubles that never satisfy. Of vicious poison that chokes the lungs, and of storied forests that once knew better times. Radical and searing, the stories of White Dancing Elephants demand and warrant an attentive, listening audience.\
Sara Gallardo, trans. by Jessica Sequeira
PositiveForeword ReviewsAtmospheric details capture ice floes, desolate caves, and plains over which the wind whips and bites ... Some stories, like \'Cristóbal the Giant,\' are imaginative etiologies that locate the nexus of natural beauty in deep, visceral need; others, like \'Georgette and the General,\' are entirely, achingly human ... At all turns, these stories are unsettling, surprising, and unmissable. Land of Smoke is a bountiful collection of short stories, full of sharp edges, odd magic, and unexpected allure.