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.