RaveShelf AwarenessThe plots and settings of the stories collected in Mars might get labeled as science fiction or dystopian, but the works themselves feel weightless, unmoored to any real convention as they probe dark corners of the human psyche. There are clones, trips to distant planets, even zombies, but far more memorable are the moments charged with meaning that so often end Bakić\'s stories, where a look, a touch or a word can upend the world ... Tricky and hard to pin down, these stories tease and perplex. Readers who might not be interested by zombies and interplanetary space flight shouldn\'t discount this book. Likewise, lovers of science fiction and horror will find a wonderfully surreal take on tried-and-true stories, where the strictures of plot break open to release something stranger and darker. Bakić knows exactly what forms she employs, and deconstructs, in service of creating the unsettling moods of her stories. It\'s a pleasure to feel so unmoored and still held in the steady hands of a brilliant writer.
RaveShelf AwarenessWith Hugo Best, Somers deftly teases out the muddled and sometimes inappropriate relationship men like him have with fame ... Somers does a great job balancing June\'s competing feelings ... Hugo is never overly predatory (the book would be trite if that were the case), but it\'s clear his behavior is, at best, not great ... Somers shines when depicting the little moments between the two, which are funny and poignant ... Somers knows exactly when both the laugh lines and the cringes should hit ... Stay Up with Hugo Best hilariously skewers and celebrates the world of late-night shows and comedy.
RaveShelf Awareness\"...another addition to his remarkable work charting the stories of the Windy City ... Kotlowitz has an uncanny rapport with all his subjects, sitting down with them for months or years, learning about their struggles from friends and family and creating a compelling, incredibly readable depiction of their lives. There is pain, death and deep sadness throughout these pages, but also love, forgiveness and new beginnings. Kotlowitz presents life as it is for those living in Chicago: the chaos, tragedy and connections that give life meaning and hope.\
RaveShelf AwarenessExcellent ... Mayer\'s characters and settings are various and multifaceted, sometimes linking up to the proposed theme of the work, and sometimes downright undercutting it ... Mayer is interested in people whose connections to their friends and family are strained and tenuous, and his stories explore how easily those connections can be repaired or severed. Most of the pieces in Aerialists are tragedies in one way or another, but they always feel genuine, brought on by mistakes and failures of character. Mayer is well aware of how easily things can go wrong, and how precious it is when they go right.
PositiveShelf AwarenessEach story resonates like part of a choir singing in harmony ... Juggling a dozen plotlines over an extended period of time is quite a feat. It takes a little while for Sudbanthad to get everything up and running, but once he does, reading Bangkok Wakes to Rain feels like watching a spinning top stay perfectly upright. The stories move together to create a potent, elegiac whole, expertly evoking the sorrow that can come with nostalgia and showing how loss in the past echoes on into the future ... This is an assured debut, a testament to Sudbanthad\'s skill that he succeeds at such a conceptually and formally challenging work. Those who have never seen Thailand can conjure up images of Bangkok past and present, and even peek into its possible future ... a beautiful, wistful piece of place-making.
RaveShelf AwarenessA typical biography, spanning the life and career of the eighth-century poet, but Ha Jin\'s masterful style and deep affection for his subject make the book a pleasure to read--especially for those unfamiliar with Li Bai or Chinese poetry in general ... liberally quotes Bai\'s work, sometimes reproducing complete poems in translation to show the depth of his imagery and style. A number of readers will pick up this book knowing its author but not Li Bai, and Ha Jin makes sure they see Bai\'s prodigious talent. Newcomers will be swept up in Bai\'s personal history while fans of his work will enjoy Ha Jin\'s own take on the man and his influence.
RaveShelf AwarenessThe Odyssey is mentioned offhandedly on a couple of occasions, but An Orchestra of Minorities plays like a dark satire of that foundational text of Western literature ... If anything, Obioma seems to use Igbo mythology to counter the Western story of a man bravely venturing home, showing how the tales of the white man cannot be conveniently grafted over the suffering of Nigerians at the hands of colonialism and European culture ... Readers unfamiliar with Nigeria will come away with a deeper understanding of Igbo culture and tradition, with the chi narrator serving as a guide to them as well as Chinonso ... a powerful look at the opportunities and ruin that lay before a man in pursuit of his dreams.
Janet Dewart Bell
PositiveShelf AwarenessWithout editorializing, Bell places these stories alongside each other to show the movement\'s many facets ... Bell also pays attention to women whose stories have been crowded out by those of the men in their lives ... Lighting the Fires of Freedom is meant to bring untold stories to the fore, a complementary piece to other, broader looks at American history regarding race. Bell reminds readers that one story is never enough to truly explain a movement.
PositiveThe AV ClubColorless Tsukuru Tazaki’s release was an event in Japan, which is fitting, since the novel is Murakami’s best work in two decades ... Content to drift through life, thirtysomething Tsukuru Tazaki lives in Tokyo with no purpose beyond his job of designing train stations. When a new girlfriend, Sara, probes him about the past, he begins to reexamine his life ... In typical Murakami fashion, the exploration of the past is both physical and spiritual, with Tsukuru flying across the world as well as re-inhabiting old fantasies that hold peculiar powers ...strongly makes the case that the enigmas Murakami presents are not what’s interesting about his stories. He has a hyperactive imagination, bending and warping narratives that otherwise feel very human ...may be Murakami’s most human novel yet. Most scenes are dialogues between characters, with the major plot points turning on what long-lost friends have to say, rather than great shifts in the universe.