RaveThe Boston GlobeThe book is superb, rich with all the details and vocabularies that comprise any de-mystification of illness.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review... a wonderful, immersive debut ... Here is where the novel’s heft earns its great, beautiful weight. Beate decides to move back to Germany, returning with children of her own ... is, in so many ways, a novel of life — at least in James Salter’s sense: \'Life is weather. Life is meals.\' As in many great novels, time is perhaps its most magnetic character. Our lives are time spent, and it’s a deep, expansive pleasure to spend a little of ours as these characters spend their own ... Most extraordinarily, Grattan gives us not only life, but a good life, the rarity of which in fiction (and increasingly, reality) is a shame. Is happiness really so uninteresting? Is contentment? Both seem to have developed that reputation, but in Grattan’s hands, life’s joys are magnetic ... Even among the absolute, unequivocal horrors of Eastern Europe in the 1990s, there is room for life. Room, even, for beauty, which Grattan delivers with graceful economy ... Where our present era of decimated attention demands contraction and diminishment, The Recent East offers expansion; it artfully holds open a needed space — to wander, to contemplate, to notice. Even just to breathe. Like the house in the novel, life is so much larger than we remember ... Grattan’s true talent is patience. I think it’s only now that I’ve realized where it is these characters grow. One name for it is family. The other, no matter who offers it, is love. I’m grateful this novel could take me there.
Guillermo Saccomanno, Trans. by Andrea G. Labinger
RaveFull Stop... a great novel ... [A] necessity of tyranny is submission, and on this Saccomanno has built a brilliant fugue ... One of Saccomanno’s immense triumphs in this novel is to eradicate whatever imagined solidarity, whatever togetherness, readers are tempted to overlay onto Professor Gómez’s life in 1977. The story one wishes to hear is how people band together, how they hang onto their humanity. As the vanished bodies add up and Gómez grows more and more alone, it becomes clear that the genius of 77 is not that humanity endures such overwhelming and invasive terror, but that it doesn’t. It can’t ... I am—as we all should be—grateful for 77 and all novels like it[.]
Valeria Luiselli, Trans. by Christina MacSweeney
RaveFull StopRegardless of who I choose to be, Faces in the Crowd highlights the question itself more vividly, more urgently, than any novel I’ve read in recent years ... If this sounds complicated, it’s not. At all. Faces in the Crowd avoids all the hostile tricks common among imbricated, polyphonic novels. It’s immensely readable, and yet it resists the neat, newspaper headline description ... Faces in the Crowd is best read as a novel, not a paragraph or a tweet, and definitely not a review. It’s a unique, inward fiction whose dimensions multiply as its narrator nears the total ecstasy of writing itself.