PositiveTimeRushdie’s relentless creative energy pairs well with his understanding of how history \'works,\' and...this book can read almost more like a work of history than a fairy tale. So call it a feat of fidelity that later sections grow confusingly byzantine and the history lesson drags at points ... What Rushdie re-creates convincingly is the way that the divine is a necessary component in the creation myths of great cities and societies. The urge to understand ourselves in sacred terms developed not from the invention of history, but alongside it. It’s as if Rushdie has dropped a molecule of divinity into a petri dish containing the other basic stuff of life, and watched a civilization cultivate.
PositiveTimeStaggering ... It offers a few more clues, but mostly deepens the various mysteries on offer in the first novel ... It’s a rare thing to see a writer employ the tools of fiction in order to make a genuine contribution to what we know, and what we can know, about material existence. Put differently, the ideal audience for these books are Fields Medal recipients, but they’re still a privilege and a hoot for the rest of us to read. And if we can’t understand everything McCarthy is writing about, one suspects that he just might.
RaveTIMEWith the powers of her prose on full, incandescent display, 6½ pages is all Yuknavitch needs to illuminate the connections between the body and the spirit, the fists and the heart, both beating in their losing battles ... In these 20 efficient and affecting stories, Yuknavitch unveils the hidden worlds, layered under the one we know, that can be accessed only via trauma, displacement and pain. There is a vein of the wisdom of the grotesque throughout ... the damaged beauty of these misfits keeps the reader leaning in.
RaveTIMECummins’ efficient prose delivers thrills, horror and tender moments, but it’s the action scenes that stand out ... Some of the faintest praise that could be bestowed on a novel is to call it \'topical,\' but while this book reflects the current real-world crisis at many of the world’s borders, the story is masterfully composed of timeless elements ... although Cummins, who married an undocumented immigrant, has written an eminently readable adventure, she doesn’t mine the pain of migrants for entertainment. Rather, she proves that fiction can be a vehicle for expanding our empathy.
RaveMiami HeraldD’Ambrosio’s work...is popular with writers largely because as a group they tend to skew toward admiring work that is the ineffably sad ... That low-grade despair is evident in all of these essays ... D’Ambrosio is simply one of the best crafters of an English sentence alive today. His blackly beautiful observations, wrought with impressive intelligence, give the reader clues with which to simultaneously understand the cavernous interiors of his own mind and soul ... Silence is D’Ambrosio’s arch-enemy; the silence of an undocumented tragedy or an uncommunicated pain. To read the essays in Loitering is to yell down into the silent spaces of your life, roost the bats from the walls, and find a name for that which had gone unnamed.
RaveTimeQuichotte, the Booker Prize long-listed 14th novel from Salman Rushdie, is pitched as a \'Don Quixote for the modern age,\' but the book–a brilliant, funny, world-encompassing wonder–is a far more ambitious exercise than mere homage ... in Rushdie’s hands all borders are indeed porous: between author and subject, reality and magic, hope and folly. As he weaves the journeys of the two men nearer and nearer, sweeping up a full accounting of all the tragicomic horrors of modern American life in the process, these energies begin to collapse beautifully inward, like a dying star. His readers realize that they would happily follow Rushdie to the end of the world, which it turns out they will have to do ... Like any serious book, this one is written with a long view toward the apocalypse, and the one written here is shared evenly: the end of the book, the end of Quichotte, the end of the author, and the end of the world. And yet somehow, a glimmer of hope, like an impossible dream, is left for us.
RaveTIMERaised in Captivity: Fictional Nonfiction, Klosterman’s first collection of short stories, extends his trademark curiosity and whirring intelligence to the realm of fiction. The short stories here, 34 in total, are truly short, fewer than 10 pages on average. But what they may lack in development or structure, they make up for in originality and humor ... Klosterman’s work is motivated by his interest in ideas or, rather, his interest in society’s interest in ideas: how we come to them, experience them and abandon them. In these short pieces, he uses largely faceless characters to test accepted realities, such as time, technology, death and football, to an extent well beyond the reach of nonfiction. The effect of these almost scrollable-length stories is at once familiar and uncanny. It feels like a replication of the fractured way we are forced, in the age of technology, to mediate reality and attempt to understand the world around us.
RaveTIMEHaddon writes with wrenching beauty about how the world inflicts itself on the disadvantaged ... All of this may sound like a recipe for an uneven novel. But it’s a testament to Haddon’s prodigious gifts as a storyteller that this strange, epic adventure is so compulsively readable. And it’s only because the pages that focus on Angelica are so gripping that we miss her dearly when she’s gone so soon.
RaveTIMEIt would be impossible to discuss Gingerbread...without the mention of fairy tales ... Oyeyemi, as she has done in her earlier work, subverts these tropes through a contemporary idiom, the novel’s real enchantment is its experimentation with storytelling itself ... It is the project of Oyeyemi’s wildly inventive storytelling to superimpose the fantastical over the mundane ... The borderless nature of literature allows Oyeyemi to perform these feints and transmogrifications several times per page and undermine confidence in the storytelling method itself. Some words critics have used to describe this technique are heady, uncanny and surreal–some others might be confusing or frustrating. These words could also be used to describe the experience of dreaming, a state that Oyeyemi is skilled at evoking.
RaveTIME...[a] thrilling debut ... The author...hits her stride in the final sections of the book, which take place in the vibrant new landscapes of Burkina Faso and Ghana ... Wilkinson weaves timely issues into a heart-thumping narrative ... For the novel’s engaging intelligence and serious reckoning with the world’s postwar order, Wilkinson deserves the comparisons to John le Carré she’s already receiving ... she has reinvigorated the genre.
Jamil Jan Kochai
PositiveTIMEKochai weaves together a tapestry of stories to present a captivating image of the country that has been called \'the graveyard of empires.\' ... For the characters, these tales are not mere entertainments, but rather ways of understanding their often war-shattered world, the enactment of collective memory that creates a family, and a nation. For American readers, they are a way into a culture too often reduced to stereotypes ... Kochai maintains a playful humor in Marwand’s voice, channeling something like One Thousand and One Nights meets The Sandlot, and we feel as if we are watching the coming-of-age of a real boy. Yet, especially in its second half, the novel departs from realism into the hazy lyricism of mythmaking on the way to its affecting conclusion.
PositiveTimeUses a chorus of distinct voices from within London’s \'council estates\' (public housing) to present a gritty and tragic snapshot of the city ... Gunaratne’s prose swells to a stylish, ground-level street symphony. The vernacular that defines the language of the inhabitants of the estate, shot through with ennet and nuttan and yuno and more colorful turns of phrase, is not quite as impenetrable as the slang invented by Anthony Burgess for A Clockwork Orange, but nearly so. Although the slang is a barrier to entry at the start, the reader soon catches up–and as the book careens to its devastating conclusion, the linguistic flair reveals itself as entirely necessary. It is, Gunaratne proves to us, utterly inseparable from the people who use it to make sense of their lives, and the city where they must try to make a home.
RaveNewsdayThe collaring of Regan was the result of a long investigation spearheaded by FBI agent Steven Carr, comprehensively and thrillingly detailed by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee in The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell ... Bhattacharjee, a former staff writer for the journal Science, scrupulously re-creates Carr’s work in deciphering each code so that the reader can follow along. The result is a full appreciation for the guile, initiative and determination Carr employed to obtain a conviction and life sentence for a criminal who put countless American lives at risk. This fascinating incident from our nation’s history, and the lessons it provides, ought to be well-remembered, and The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell deserves to be widely read.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewAll of the stories in this stark and cutting collection grapple with our failure to communicate, and investigate not merely the woeful inefficiency of language itself (although that’s bad enough) but also the inherent impossibility of truly understanding another person’s internal state. The book’s power comes from Barrodale’s ability to distort and project the familiar into something new ... The collection’s best and most exemplary story, 'Night Report,' employs elements of modernity to show how little our communication skills have improved with time ... Barrodale has captured something near to what it feels like to be confined to a human brain.
Garth Risk Hallberg
PositiveThe Daily BeastHallberg has tried mightily and he nearly pulls it off. Judged strictly as a product of effort and determination, the book is an absolute marvel. A Russian nesting-doll analogy would not quite serve, as there are so many separate dolls all with their own nests, and all intersecting at various orders of magnitude.