PositiveThe Star (CA)Daoud invests a chatty gregariousness to his narrator who provides an exegesis of the classic novel, now described as a real-life memoir and not a book of fiction. He laments that the stark beauty of Camus/Meursault’s prose has obliterated any sense of his brother Musa ... Whereas Camus strikes a narrative of mostly short, crisp sentences, Daoud’s stand-in speaks from memory, tracing and retracing his story, adding new thoughts, details, and embellishments. Scenes slip out of order as Harun rambles back ... Daoud is smart enough not to try to mimic Camus’ style. However, the bar stool warmer’s garrulous punchiness does stop on occasion ... If there is a problem, it is Daoud’s decision, in a book filled to the brim with parallels, to substitute Camus’ anonymous Arab with historyless women.
PositiveThe Star (CA)Obioma provides a vibrant snapshot of life for a middle class Igbo family in a 1990s Yoruba-majority town ... The novel’s narration is enlivened by Obioma employing two narrators in one, Ben the child and Ben the adult. The older voice allows for a more articulate telling of the story whereas the younger only knows what he experiences or hears ... Metaphors and parables populate the pages, a tribute to the idea that \'although Christianity had almost cleanly swept through Igbo land, crumbs and pieces of the African traditional religion had eluded the broom\' ... Despite an overabundance of metaphors, Obioma’s The Fishermen is a fine, heartfelt debut. It just might be too premature to call him the next Achebe.
PositiveToronto StarHow all these stories interconnect comes clear as the novel hits its crescendo when the layers of secrets, untold truths and mysteries ultimately reveal themselves. While the novel keeps jumping through time and space, Anwar moves the stories briskly along as each thread hits its own crisis point ... the narration is occasionally overwhelmed by the accounting of so much time, flattening the emotional intensity in places ... Anwar achieves his final goal as the novel eventually pulls at one’s heartstrings as the \'vicious cycle of life\' becomes evident.
PositiveThe Toronto StarNine Continents is a compelling and often startling read, written in a direct style with a few moments of sentimentality. Guo intersperses scenes from a Buddhist folk tale throughout the book, providing a dreamy feel to an often hard-edged story. While she does discuss the many influences on her artistic life, Guo does not really reflect on her practice. It feels strange that a prolific novelist and filmmaker would exclude discussing her many works in English and Chinese. What Guo does detail is the quest for freedom in a changing communist China, the anguished pull of family, and the loneliness of a new immigrant. Ultimately, the memoir is a feminist meditation on the yearning to balance individuality with belonging and find a home.