Misha BersonMisha Berson is the theater critic for the Seattle Times, and the author of Something’s Coming, Something Good: West Side Story and the American Imagination and other books. She can be found on Twitter @MishaBerson
RaveThe Seattle TimesThe voyage 11-year-old Michael makes from Sri Lanka to London, to reunite with his mother, is filled with small marvels, curious secrets, boyish adventures and fascinatingly eccentric grown-ups. This rite of passage, and its reverberations throughout Michael's life, unspools like a wondrous floating dream in Michael Ondaatje's enthralling and poignant new novel … Sifting through memories from different periods of his life, the adult narrator Michael retrieves both vivid and shadowy, cogent and perplexing scraps of his past. When chapters digress from the voyage, one itches to return to the ripping shipboard yarn, so beautifully evoked from the vantage point of a bright, rambunctious, naive boy. But with the sure hand of the master storyteller, Ondaatje fuses different time tracks to arrive at a one poetic, meaningful destination.
PositiveThe Seattle TimesSwing Time is the work of a writer whose fancy verbal footwork allows her to change partners often. There is a big supporting cast. Most vivid: the narrator’s driven mother, who becomes an activist politician; a poor but educated young African man trying to better himself; and the charismatic but narcissistic Aimee and her entourage. However, Tracey may be the most fascinating persona, and least predictable.
Peter Ho Davies
RaveThe Seattle TimesThe book is more than the sum of its parts, and Davies achieves an extraordinary novelistic intimacy against backdrops of historical vibrancy.
PositiveThe Seattle TimesSimonson spent her adolescence in Rye, and she beautifully describes the pleasures of such a bucolic environment while also giving us the lowdown on how village life actually functions. She keeps several engaging plot lines moving at a stately pace, yet stays in tune with the deeper, unspoken concerns of Beatrice and others.
PositiveThe Seattle TimesFirsthand observers (and participants) of the real 1999 battle in Seattle may wince at some of the book’s creative liberties, particularly vis a vis public figures like Stamper and Schell. But Yapa’s melding of fact and fiction, human frailty and geopolitics, is a genuine tour-de-force, and an exciting literary debut.