RaveThe Telegraph (UK)\"So much could be a recipe for the worst kind of book, preachy and entirely in thrall to the navel-gazing obsession with racial and sexual identities that blights so many American campuses. Yet Taylor is a more intelligent and ambivalent writer than that would suggest. He holds his characters to a high standard of truthfulness, and his own authorial sympathies turn out to be more evenly divided between the characters than they first seem ... These are the sentences of a writer whose knowledge of the world hasn’t come entirely from books. The Real Americans knows something about people, what they spend most of their days doing. It mocks its characters for their delusions about the world and themselves, but it does not mock their aspiration to make something true and beautiful. It takes them seriously, without taking them at their own estimation.\
RaveThe New YorkerIn The New Life, Crewe distinguishes himself both as novelist and as historian. He has clearly done what G. M. Young, the great scholar of Victorian England, once recommended: to read until one can hear the people speak. Crewe’s Victorians do indeed sound like human beings, not period-piece puppets. He has, more unusually, found a prose that can accommodate everything from the lofty to the romantic and the shamelessly sexy ... The element of “alternate history” is all the more potent for its subtlety. Crewe is not trying, wishfully, to give his characters the happy endings they were denied in life ... Their acute awareness of being born too early for happiness is what gives Crewe’s characters their poignancy. In their hopeless dreams of integrity, they embody the perennial tragedy of the utopian.
PositiveThe Telegraph (UK)It is only a slight exaggeration to say that The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida has virtually nothing but jokes ... Compulsively bawdy. The pages are full of untranslated Sinhalese curses and half-explained references to Sri Lankan political history. It contains a good deal of what might be called philosophy, but very much of the public-house variety ... The sheer excess on every page makes it hard to take in the moments of quiet truthfulness. But the supernatural conceit, often a distraction, produces moments of real poignancy.
PositiveThe New Yorker... a buoyant work of intellectual history written as what was once termed the \'higher gossip.\' Wulf’s story, as the movie ads used to say, has everything. There’s the handsome young poet in love with a sickly pubescent girl; the brilliant woman whose literary work was credited to the men in her life; the passionate friendships shattered into fierce feuds. There are writers who struggle to write and others who struggle to stop. A steady and ominous undertone to all the cogitation and copulation is the rise of Napoleon, a Romantic figure in his own way, from the ashes of the 1789 revolution in France.
RaveThe New YorkerHere, Mesquita—joining her sometime co-author Lisa Feldman Barrett and other contemporary constructionists—enlists linguistic data to undermine the universalist view of emotions...Japanese, Mesquita points out, has one word, haji, to mean both \'shame\' and \'embarrassment\'; in fact, many languages (including my own first language, Tamil) make no such distinction...The Bedouins’ word hasham covers not only shame and embarrassment but also shyness and respectability...The Ilongot of the Philippines have a word, bētang, that touches on all those, plus on awe and obedience...It gets worse. According to Mesquita, \'There is no good translation for self-esteem in Chinese\'...Native speakers of Luganda, in East Africa, she tells us, \'use the same word, okusunguwala, for \"anger\" and \"sadness\"\'...Japanese people, she says, are shocked to learn that English has no word that’s equivalent to amae: \'a complete dependence on the nurturant indulgence of their caregiver\'...When the Japanese psychoanalyst Takeo Doi told a colleague about this inexplicable lacuna, the colleague exclaimed, \'Why, even a puppy does it\'...Mesquita concludes that \'languages organize the domain very differently, and make both different kinds as well as different numbers of distinctions\'...One reason people resist the notion that emotions might be different in different cultures, Mesquita acknowledges, is a desire for inclusivity: the worry is that \'to say that people from other groups or cultures have different emotions is equivalent to denying their humanity\'...Mesquita’s psychological research, like the earlier work in anthropology and sociolinguistics she draws on, is clearly intended to overturn orthodox theories of emotion, both academic theories and the \'folk theory\' that’s implicit in the way we talk about our emotions...The real moral of all this research may be rather modest...People are complicated, and different from one another...Some of the differences are those among language communities, with their various norms and conventions.
PositiveThe Telegraph (UK)Readers might fear that Stuart has written the same book a second time. In several obvious ways, that is true. But Stuart makes the small differences count ... The tension of the romance is expertly sustained, as is the sense of the real heroism of being a star-crossed lover in a Jets and Sharks world. Mungo’s Glasgow is a violent place, and there are episodes so brutal they come as a shock, even after Stuart has primed us to expect them. He has the restraint to keep the romantic passages short and suggestive, giving us enough James to make him a real presence without turning him into a romantic hero from a different sort of novel ... The risk of sentimentality is always there, as it was in Shuggie Bain. But Young Mungo is a braver book, and more truthful, for his having taken that risk.
PositiveThe New Statesman (UK)Short, punchy chapters take us through the things Sacks approves of (marriage, family, truthfulness, civility, altruism) and those of which he disapproves (drugs, social media, censorship, public shaming, safe spaces, narcissism, identity politics and the \'culture of victimhood\'). Unlike others who share his bugbears, Sacks offers more than the kids-these-days conservatism of the tabloid moralists. His complaints, unlike theirs, emerge out of a world-view that has more to it than petulance ... The inheritor of a tradition with a long historical memory of loss, exile, death and mourning, Sacks has things to say that speak more directly to our present condition than anything in recent liberal thinking.