RaveThe Washington Independent Review of BooksThis is an instant classic. A novel that takes places during the Thatcher years and, in a way, defines it. A novel that explores the underbelly of Scottish society. A novel that digs through the grit and grime of 1980s Glasgow to reveal a story that is at once touching and gripping. Think D.H. Lawrence. Think James Joyce ... the American reader will need a Scottish to English dictionary to get through some of the local language ... well worth the slog through unfamiliar lingo. And the language is so well tuned that it transforms a working-class tale into a literary tour de force ... a novel that will capture your interest from the first page and immerse you in a world from which you want to escape but from which, like its protagonist, you can’t. There are characters you will hate and characters you will come to love ... realism at its best: a picture of the world as it is for those stuck in circumstances from which they cannot escape, one that relentlessly strives for redemption. Don’t expect a happy ending, but do expect to find yourself engrossed in a story that will leave you both wowed and numb.
Kamel Daoud, trans. by John Cullen
RaveThe Washington Independent Review of BooksKamel Daoud’s novel is an ekphrastic response to Camus’ masterpiece — a dialogue of sorts with the original; a tribute, or, more likely, a rebuke. In essence, it is all and none of these, for it is a work that stands on its own while at the same time alluding both subtly and overtly to the original ... Camus’ use of language in The Stranger is minimalist — short, curt sentences that mimic Meursault’s noncommittal nature. Daoud’s language, on the other hand, is filled with longer passages and lush descriptions of the environment, perhaps signaling a deeper connection between Harun and his surroundings, an interesting use of irony considering his separateness from his own people ... a superb tale, deftly conceived and executed.
PositiveWashington Independent Review of BooksEnter Brock Clarke, whose zany new novel, Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe?, has an offbeat voice that perfectly fits this offbeat story ... Part of what makes the novel work so well...is the wry humor that permeates the story ... Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe? is successful in illuminating lost lives that end up being less unsuccessful than those living them believe. It’s also a fun read by a rather successful author.