RaveBookPage...spectacular and emotionally polyphonic ... In a particularly brilliant act of alchemy, the novel finds new ways to dissect the geopolitical significance of China’s explosive 1980s through the complicated nature of the story’s relationships ... Su Lan is a difficult and singular character of immense depth. What makes Little Gods extraordinary is the way it examines not only the trajectory of its characters’ lives but also their emotional motivations ... an awesome achievement.
RaveBookPage... a fast-paced, narrative-focused journey into the often terrifying world of the North, Central and South American refugee trail ... Cummins moves the story along skillfully, with sprinkled-in suspense in the form of backstory and action-heavy sequences. Much of the book is made up of relatively short, present-tense sentences, and there’s little in the way of digression. Like its two central characters, the story is in constant motion. But for all the suspense, what holds the novel together is the relationship between Lydia and Luca. Both characters are forced to delay their grieving process in order to survive, and so they are bound not only by blood but also by shared trauma ... an important book for the current political moment, providing readers with a better understanding of the motives behind such journeys at a time when migrants are readily and easily vilified. It’s an absolute page turner with wider relevance.
Carolina De Robertis
RaveBookPageFreedom—its presence and absence, the longing for it—colors every page of Carolina De Robertis’ masterful, passionate and at times painful new novel ... The novel covers some 35 years, frequently changing focus from one character to another and yet at all times retaining a powerful sense of intimacy. Each of De Robertis’ central characters is of incredible emotional depth. Cantoras is at its most powerful when dissecting consequences of desire ... The bond the five women form—the way they orbit, attract and repel, take solace and find strength in one another—is the most moving part of Cantoras. By the end of the novel, there is a sense that the reader has done more than simply peer in on the lives of strangers, that instead they have experienced something organic and deeply human—a dangerous, powerful kind of freedom.
PositiveBookPageHassib is especially talented at rendering the small details of daily Egyptian life—not in some exoticized fashion but rather as a foundation on which to lay the wide variety of experiences, ideologies and aspirations of the country’s citizenry. These details, found throughout the book, shine ... What’s most impressive about A Pure Heart isn’t the central tension—how Gameela’s death comes about—but rather the novel’s meditation on the nature of multiple identities ... There is a tenderness and honesty in the way Hassib describes the relationship between the two women, and it is in this relationship that the novel is most nuanced.
PositiveBookPage...quiet, deeply human ... There are many moments of quiet power in Cásares’ story ... The novel’s depiction of children’s daily lives is particularly well done ... Where We Come From is not the kinetic, suspenseful novel its opening pages will make many readers believe it is. This is a good thing. It moves instead at a slow, deliberate pace.
RaveBookPage\"... an expansive yet intricate novel that bends, inverts and at times ignores conventions of time and place. Part historical fiction, part futurism, part fantasy, Serpell’s hundred-year saga of three families and their intertwined fortunes is as unique as it is ambitious. And in just about every way, it succeeds ... There is a timeless quality to Serpell’s storytelling ... In clumsier hands this complex, sprawling, century--spanning book might have easily folded in on itself, a victim of its scale and scope. Instead, The Old Drift holds together, its many strands diverging and converging in strange but undeniable rhythm ... And for all the ways it subverts and reinvents convention, The Old Drift is a very human book, deeply concerned with that most virulent strain of history: the unpunishable crimes of others.\
PositiveBookPage\"... a surprisingly poignant assessment of smaller, more universally human moments ... Charyn has a gift for the unexpected, both linguistically and narratively ... Deftly, Charyn interweaves what is real and invented about Roosevelt’s life, and the result is at once surprising and very entertaining.\
Khaled Khalifa Trans. by Leri Price
PositiveBookPage\"Many Western readers will find Khaled Khalifa’s new novel unbearably grim ... Death Is Hard Work moves in a way similar to the war it chronicles—mercilessly over the bones of its victims ... Frequently and without warning, the novel strays from the present-day narrative into the histories, dreams and frustrations of its central characters. The result is something at the intersection of Faulkner and Kafka, a modern-day As I Lay Dying passed through the lens of maddening bureaucracy, hypocrisy and slaughter. Readers looking for optimism or resolution need look elsewhere. Readers who want an unflinching account of one of recent history’s bloodiest civil wars will find in Khalifa’s latest work a story superficially colored by the many manifestations of death, but chiefly concerned with what a miraculous, Herculean thing it is to simply live.\
PositiveBookPageWilliams does an admirable job of weaving myriad characters’ stories together ... But the novel is at its best when it pushes the technology to the background and turns instead to the emotional mechanics of happiness. Williams is a deft observer of small human details, and in moments when she pinpoints these details, the story shines.
Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar
PositiveBookPageThe Map of Salt and Stars is at once a testament to the brutality of the current Syrian conflict and a reverent ode to ancient Arabian history ... an audacious debut, ambitious and sprawling in both time and space ... There is a heartfelt quality to the story, evident in the meticulous historical research that must have gone into the creation of the ancient part of the book.
PositiveBookPageWriting from a place of deep reverence for her central character, Darznik crafts a sensory experience, an Iran whose sights and sounds and scents feel neither superficial nor trivially exotic. The result is a well-honed novel about the meaning of rebellion—what happens when a poet of singular talent decides 'that it’s shame, not sin, that’s unholy.' ”
Luis Alberto Urrea
RaveBookPage...takes its rightful place alongside the best contemporary accounting of what it means to belong in this country of endless otherness ... Urrea writes in exhilarating but controlled slashes, wielding a machete that cuts like a scalpel. Every page comes alive with scent, taste and, perhaps most movingly, touch.