RaveBooklistFirst-time novelist Basra delivers a damning indictment of capitalism, a system that swallows the global poor whole and spits out wasted humans. At the same time, Basra maintains a light touch; the novel wears its burdens with good humor.
RaveBooklistCunningham brilliantly and skillfully demonstrates how such contradictions are possible.
RaveBooklist\"Once again Vara demonstrates her unbound fearlessness; she does not shy away from the rawness of everyday life. But in teasing apart the knots that complicate our lives, she exhibits a remarkable empathy for humanity, especially for so-called ordinary people.\
C Pam Zhang
RaveBooklistEnding on a hopeful note, this sumptuous feast is an absolute marvel. Savor every delicious morsel.
RaveBooklistThe beauty of Donoghue’s thoroughly researched novel rooted in Lister’s famous diary lies in the ways it explores how unequal the effects of love can be on two souls ... It’s truly a tragedy when your life’s best moments are already in the rearview mirror.
PositiveBooklistAt times the story indulges in too much navel-gazing with one Hindi or Urdu couplet too many. But through Alif, the reader, too, can mourn the rapid decline of secularism in India while savoring the calming rhythms of daily life in one of the world’s biggest metropolises.
MixedBooklistSkyhorse spends a little too much time with his protagonist’s navel-gazing, but the story gathers velocity as Iris slowly runs out of options and the taut ending takes no prisoners. The horror here is that Iris’ experiences are so recognizable and plausible.
PositiveBooklistBishop expertly dissects the innards of a seesaw relationship and the inequities women must battle. The bristling arguments crackle brilliantly ... It’s the marriage that keeps us engaged.
MixedBooklistFuller is best when describing the slow unraveling of the hospital group. The other sections are distracting and feel disjointed. Nevertheless, the novel makes us ponder what we owe each other as humans. It turns out the kindness of strangers can only take us so far.
RaveBooklistWray’s edgy prose...s as crisp as ever, resulting in a melodious exploration of the succor that music and fan groups can provide, especially to rudderless teens desperate to find anchor anywhere.
Kira Yarmysh, trans. by Arch Tait
PositiveBooklistThe familiar trials and tribulations that everyday Russians face stand out in dramatic effect as Yarmysh illuminates the subtly veiled political dissent within an oppressive society straining at the seams.
RaveBooklistHeart-warming ... Engel is an expert at painting the lives of the marginalized.
RaveBooklistKapoor’s frenetic and colorful novel highlights the new global pecking order, in which the rich always win ... Gripping.
RaveBooklistWilson has developed a story that is a precise capture of adolescence and of two vibrant teens whose everyday dilemmas, weaknesses, and triumphs are utterly endearing. If the denouement feels a little pat, it is more than made up for by the crisp dialogue and the zipping story line that takes us there.
RaveBooklistGilliss’ debut novel paints an aching picture of life at the fringes of American society, capturing a pain that is nearly tearing the family apart. The hallucinatory and poetic prose, including gorgeous descriptions of the island’s natural beauty, feels right for a woman who is consumed with hunger not only for food but also for a semblance of normalcy and love.
Belinda Huijuan Tang
RaveBooklist... spectacular ... A breathtaking portrait of the regret that can forever shape a life when someone helplessly sticks to the path of least resistance.
RaveBooklistThe interconnected stories in Fofana’s spectacular debut collection feature a range of vibrant characters who are living close to the edge ... A range of emotions, from wistfulness to humor, envy, and vengefulness, colors these pages that are often filled with laugh-out-loud passages ... Above all, the characters’ voices are unforgettable, crackling with energy and spunk...The answers are as nuanced as the storytellers themselves, who have crafted their very own definitions of home.
MixedBooklistOkparanta takes on heavy subjects, including racism, environmental destruction, xenophobia, extremist politics, and the COVID-19 pandemic in an uneven attempt at satire. Harry’s parents, Chevy and Wayne, for example, come across as extreme caricatures, and significant aspects of Harry’s growth arc are missing. Okparanta hints at Harry’s sexuality in the first part of the book, which takes place during a vacation in Tanzania with his parents, but that is left unexplored as the story moves on to the young man’s body dysmorphia. This disjointed but ambitious and daring novel has its appeals, and some readers will appreciate the humor.
RaveBooklistRoy’s multilayered novel evokes the craft of pottery with a gentle touch while rendering a moving depiction of the power of guilt.
RaveBooklistToo often, graphic violence in fiction is garish and showy. It takes a deft hand to portray the more subtle kinds of cruelties that shape these spectacular stories. Freeman possesses just that sort of talent, the kind that can massage touches of the unwelcome into everyday incidents to unsettling effect ... Freeman’s stories work precisely because they are full of the drama and the ordinariness of life. Here is proof that there is tragedy and beauty in the everyday; you just have to know where to look.
Tsering Yangzom Lama
RaveBooklist... achingly beautiful ... It is the characters’ capacity for romance, jealousy, and even pettiness that adds nuance and color to this tale of historic and personal loss, tempering their trials with a measure of joy.
PositiveBooklistAli’s strength lies in exploring the many ways in which class complications manifest ... The finale is rich, bawdy, and bold, a dramatization of the many ways we fail those closest to us and build lives on shifting sediments of buried feelings. And yet we live for love.
RaveBooklistAlternating between Rao’s childhood in a small Indian village, his early student days in the U.S., and the dystopian society in which Athena has to function, Vara’s original debut delivers challenging and weighty themes with a sure hand.
PositiveBooklistAbu-Jaber spins a mesmerizing tale of displacement, not just in Gabe’s move to the U.S. but in Natalia’s wrenching transplantation to Jordan. Even if at times the narrative stumbles under the weight of its storytelling ambitions, this is a haunting look at the pull the past exerts on us. As Gabe finds out, \'the longer you’re away, the bigger and more elusive the past becomes; a beautiful monster.\' Descriptions of the shifting desert landscapes are icing on the cake.
Sandro Veronesi, Tr. Elena Pala
PositiveBooklistDramatizing the arc of Carrera’s life through flashbacks, emails, poetry, and phone messages, Veronesi draws a sumptuous portrait of a character whose failings are his biggest charm and who wrestles with sibling and parental issues like most of us. ... This is a moving reminder that even the most ordinary lives are peppered with touches of the extraordinary.
RaveBooklistMembers of the Stolen take turns driving the plot; rich and vivid stories are their only saving grace ... Asim vividly captures the daily rhythms of the Stolen’s lives, in which harshness is punctuated by brief spells of joy. As the enslaved embark on a soaring adventure in pursuit of freedom, a gripping and satisfying crescendo caps this lyrical story.
RaveBooklist... searching and languid ... deeply reflective ... The details of what emerges as a horrific child abuse case are unsettling and made even more so by the sudden shift of gears to the narrator’s life once Dad’s involvement in the trial ends. The abrupt change of perspective feels disorienting but provides effective ballast for the rest of the story. The looping writing—one of the sentences is 243 words long—demands attention and a slower pace, deepening the novel’s impact ... A touching reminder to find beauty in the mundane despite the relentless crush of the horrific.
PositiveBooklistUmrigar excels in her juxtaposition of the contrasts between the tech hub image of contemporary India and the deep religious divisions that continue to wrack rural regions. Will justice be served, or will the trial only add fuel to the fire? The somewhat predictable ending notwithstanding, this is a thought-provoking portrait of an India that \'felt inexpressibly large—as well as small and provincial enough to choke\' ... Umrigar is a library favorite and readers will be talking about this intense, incisive, and timely drama.
MixedBooklistOnuzo paints a blocky portrait of Anna and her complex relationships. Additional plotlines lack texture, and Anna’s seesawing feelings for her father can be frustrating. Kofi tells her that the sankofa is a mythical bird that \'flies forwards with its head facing back. It’s a poetic image but it cannot work in real life.\' Anna is earnest, but her father has a point.
RaveBooklistWith staccato prose and razor-sharp descriptions of working-class Boston, PEN/Faulkner Award-winner Lish excels at storytelling. The descriptions of Gloria’s struggle with ALS and Corey’s role as caregiver are nothing short of brilliant. Above all, the portrait of toxic masculinity is stark, nearly to the point of caricature. Although this is a relentlessly depressing story, it is powered by remarkable empathy and humanity.
Jonas Eika, tr. Sherilyn Nicolette Hellberg
PositiveBooklistThe global reach of the stories underscores the universality of the alienation that these characters endure. And the surreal debris Eika evokes from the fallout of capitalism has its own resonance.
PositiveBooklistMina is a riveting narrator, struggling to find her footing even when the weight of her identity is crushing. Alameddine also paints a kaleidoscopic view of the many facets of the refugee crisis, including a scathing indictment of disaster tourism.
RaveBooklistIn his evocative debut, Busjeet paints a vivid picture of growing up under the weight of family ties while struggling to overcome the bonds of class. His bildungsroman brilliantly traces Vishnu’s growth from boy to occasionally impertinent teenager to young man in America.
Alaa Al Aswany, tr. S. R. Fellowes
RaveBooklistAl Aswany insightfully explores how the power-hungry elite systematically quash dissent not just through force but also by manipulating minds ... In today’s splintered and partisan political and media landscape, this is a stark lesson for democracies everywhere: Whoever controls the narrative, controls the outcomes. Brave, sobering, provocative, and thoroughly absorbing.
Omar El Akkad
RaveBooklistEl Akkad...expertly contrasts the well-paced story of Amir’s predicament with the ill-fated voyage that brought him to Greece. The ragtag bunch of strangers on the boat forms an incredibly well-drawn portrait of humanity as everyone bonds together initially, even with dollops of humor thrown in ... A suspenseful and heartbreaking painting of the refugee crisis as experienced by two children caught in the crosshairs.
RaveBooklist... mesmerizing ... The narrative switches back and forth in time, from 1929 to 1999, painting remarkable portraits of women straitjacketed by society’s strictures ... Simultaneously visceral and breathless, this is one knockout of a novel.
RaveBooklistThe women in this acutely observed short story collection struggle to name the dull ache their lives seem to be permeated with ... f at times the stories feel a little too clinical, they still offer a master class in capturing the complexities of everyday life.
RaveBooklistHall effectively zooms in and out of his individual characters’ back stories. However, the larger narrative, even as Mark and wife Saskia race to track Mette when she goes missing, lacks the crucial cartilage needed to create a compelling arc. The result is luminous glimpses into genius that fall short of fusing into a cohesive whole. Mark, Vernon, Imogen (Mark’s mother), Saskia, and Mette are fascinating characters yet somehow come across as strained constructs. Just like the fiery stars in the sky, each leaps off the page for a brief, captivating moment before burning out. But that just might be enough.
PositiveBooklist\"The fiery prose describes a difficult childhood in Nigeria, a fractured relationship with their parents, and the challenges of fitting into traditional societal roles. At times the red-hot intensity of their world can be a bit difficult to take in...Nevertheless, this is a remarkable memoir by a writer who doesn’t shy away from sharing their ambitions or their vulnerabilities.\
RaveBooklistFuller (Bitter Orange, 2018) paints a devastatingly haunting picture of abject poverty, especially in her descriptions of the houses they dwell in, each of which becomes a character in its own right. This tale offers a remarkable peek into how the embrace of family can completely smother other aspects of life. Nevertheless, human ingenuity persists ... It’s reassuring to think that reinvention is possible after all.
RaveBooklistOut of this nugget of magical realism, Sathian spins pure magic ... Filled with pathos, humor, slices of American history, and an adrenaline-pumping heist, Sathian’s spectacular debut also highlights the steep costs of the all-American dream ... Pure gold.
Kirstin Valdez Quade
RaveBooklistQuade (Night at the Fiestas, 2015) ably delivers a story that is nuanced and authentic without a whiff of melodrama [...] in this generous tale of characters who understand the inevitability of fate but try to forge ahead anyway in the hope of breaking free.
PositiveBooklistA large cast of characters, from struggling actors to an aging mob hitman and underemployed millennials, populates this novel in which Mozley revisits themes of property and land ownership from her first, Elmet (2017), sometimes struggling to weave these characters’ aspirations into a relevant whole. Extraneous descriptions and style deviations detract from the plot’s more noble central focus, while a few characters seem less than relevant to the story. Nevertheless, this is a passionate and bruising take on the side effects of an increasingly unequal world, in which the rich and the poor function on alarmingly separate if parallel planes.
Yasmina Khadra, tr. John Cullen
MixedBooklistThe characters sometimes feel like mere vehicles for Khadra’s messaging about disaffected youth. Nevertheless, the novel does illuminate Khalil’s travails with plenty of empathy. As a result, his misguided motivations define a believable if not entirely relatable figure.
Pola Oloixarac, tr. Adam Morris
PositiveBooklistOloixarac delivers a scathing indictment of the book circuit, where nobody wants to point out that the emperor has no clothes ... Even if the cynicism feels heavy-handed at times, Mona emerges as an intriguing subject, a woman who worries that the sum of her talents distills down to nothing more than her potent yet fragile sexuality.
RaveBooklistDavies...creates a world that is magical yet daubed with menace. Nuanced characters, lush descriptions of South India, and an incisive look at class and religion make for a rich and layered novel.
RaveBooklistThe immigrant’s story might be well-traveled ground, but Engel...constructs a layered narrative outlining how the weight of every seemingly minor choice systematically cements into a crushing predicament ... Lively folktales of the Muisca peoples punctuate Engel’s remarkable novel as it illuminates the true costs of living in the shadows. Told by a chorus of voices and perspectives, this is as much an all-American story as it is a global one.
PositiveBooklist... heart-wrenching prose ... Although the relentlessly bleak story doesn’t sustain a full narrative arc, Bush portrays a vibrant Dakar, including a wrenching street view from the eyes of the children. A tearjerker with touches of magical realism, however monochromatic, Bush’s tale is darkly revelatory.
RaveBooklistWhat defines a life well-lived? What does it take for a chance encounter that turns into a friendship developed over the course of one summer to make its presence felt decades on? Krauss (Forest Dark, 2017) winningly explores these and other weighty issues in a home run of a short story collection ... Above all, these stories pay homage to strong women.
Anja Kampmann, Trans. Anne Posten
PositiveBooklistGerman poet Kampmann touchingly and intimately illustrates the fallout of capitalism’s dependence on oil. The true tragedy here is that Waclaw’s story is not unique. His plight is a perfect vehicle for Kampmann’s lyrical descriptions, which reach from dusty Moroccan cities to the brass-colored balustrades in a Budapest hotel. At times Waclaw’s ennui threatens to slow the pace to a crawl. Nevertheless, this is a haunting exploration of the devastating costs all kinds of gig workers have to bear to feed themselves and the belly of the beast.
RaveBooklistAlam...brilliantly captures the shift in dynamics between the two families, from apprehension about each other to a collective front against an external entity. The narrative’s increasing tempo expertly dives into subtle yet incisive intersections between class and race ... Alam’s novel lobs a series of unsettling questions: How will we react to the next nebulous horror? How will we parent? What will we define as home?
RaveBooklist\"The ghost of history looms large too. Kunzru sets his protagonist in the grim shadow of the Nazi final solution. Near the writer’s center, the narrator comes across the grave of Heinrich von Kleist, the German poet, dramatist, and writer who committed a murder-suicide in Wannsee. As Kunzru’s protagonist slowly loses his hold on reality, he questions if what he’s seeing is just another whitewashed version of the truth. Kunzru has created a complex, challenging, and bold story about a world gone amok and a middle-aged man coming to terms with his one truth: his mediocrity.\
PositiveBooklistVeselka has a keen eye for social class ... And motherhood, a theme she wields sharply to highlight the precarious existence of people living on the fringes. A fitting story for our times of families trying to stay together despite all odds, redefining their own relationships along life’s perilous journeys.
RaveBooklistHughes breathes poetry into the fractured existence of each of these characters, rendering them vital even as they struggle to put a name to their deprived existence ... Sad without being maudlin, Hughes’ novel tells a moving story about one man’s slow decline to obsolescence, the ultimate indignity a father can suffer in front of his grown sons.
RaveBooklistThe tale’s carefully woven construct falls apart at every turn in this deeply unsettling yet ultimately redeeming story about one young man’s struggles in Nigeria in a society which too often straitjackets one’s identity. Every sentence is an achingly raw jewel ... Although the sneak peek into Vivek’s mental illness early on is sacrificed at the altar of the larger narrative, the dynamite story that emerges unflinchingly upends established definitions of family and community. This is another knockout performance from a writer who, much like Emezi’s complex protagonist, refuses to color within the lines.
PositiveBooklistMbue...paints a gripping and nuanced picture of resistance ... The book’s narrative device, a chorus of voices, sometimes stalls the linear march of the story as each narrator tells a similar tale of difficult circumstances, barely pushing the plot forward. This reflectiveness emphasizes the universal ring to the villagers’ epic battle, and the outcomes are tragically familiar. Mbue’s novel offers proof that capitalism is just colonialism masquerading as a different avatar.
PositiveBooklistIf a Venn diagram highlighted the overlaps among racism, sexism, technology, and millennial ennui, Nguyen’s edgy novel would be smack–dab at the center ... If at times the send-up of tech-bro culture feels familiar, Nguyen has created a distinctive, ace, and surprisingly sad critique of just how real the dichotomy is between our true selves and the ones drowned in the wash of technology.
RaveBooklist... immensely entertaining and fluid ... If at times key pivot points depend too conveniently on coincidence, Dupont’s spellbinding tale nevertheless spectacularly drives home the wonders of long-form storytelling ... Through his characters, Dupont has woven a memorable one.
Saud Alsanousi Trans. by Sawad Hussain
PositiveBooklistAlsanousi peppers a grim historical narrative of Kuwait with generous doses of warmth doled out by the lively Mama Hissa, Katkout’s grandmother. Although the story is overambitious in its reach, a cast of colorful characters winningly delivers the sights and smells of Kuwait.
RaveBooklistVapnyar distills and synthesizes different identities: immigrant, lover, wife, and daughter. As Katya movingly explains when she hits her forties, she always thought she lived in an \'Escher\' house, a metaphor that can stand for the disjointedness of her entire life. Woven together with math concepts and plenty of raw feelings, this is a love story for those who are forever engaged in the pursuit of happiness.
PositiveBooklistYou want me to talk about life, but all I’ve talked about is failure, as if they’re the same thing, or at least so closely entwined that I can’t separate the two—like the trees you see growing in the half-ruined buildings in the Old Town.\' This devastating opening line frames the life of Ah Hock, whose outsider status as a Malaysian of Chinese descent is only bearable because there are folks who occupy the darker fringes even Hock has the luxury of escaping ... Aw...savagely erases any doubt that only the fittest survive in the ruthless world of global capitalism.
RaveBooklistFolarin delivers a remarkably mature narrator, who must make peace with his past and navigate racial realities in the U.S. He wrestles with the shadows cast by both home-brewed racism and vestiges of colonialism imported from Nigeria.
Mary Beth Keane
PositiveBooklistEven if it occasionally seems like Keane’s male characters seek refuge for their troubles in predictable ways, this is a haunting look at what happens when mental illness goes undefined. The slow-burning and nameless terror it creates swallows everyone in its path.
Adam Ehrlich Sachs
RaveBooklist... beguiling and utterly magical ... a riveting story about geopolitical scheming, warfare, and the reach of the Catholic League in the seventeenth century. At the novel’s beating heart, though, is a much more universal theme as Sachs considers father-son relationships and other complicated family dynamics that can make or break creative ambitions of all stripes ... Sprinkled with generous doses of philosophy, this gem of a novel, with a spectacular denouement, might make for labored reading initially, but ultimately, it’s an utterly immersive and transportive work of art.
PositiveBooklistAt times, the connections between the two stories seem tenuous, but Barr’s promising debut is an unblinking look at the terrors humankind can perpetrate to squash the \'other.\' As hard-hitting as the acts of violence are, more insidious is the evil that seeps into the system that aids and abets atrocities.
PositiveBooklistBy being familiar with Benares while also being a spectator on the sidelines, [Taseer] proves to be adept at chronicling the city’s various fractured selves. Although the book’s nebulous goals (is it about Brahmins, the first Modi election, the clash between modernity and tradition, or all of the above?) threaten to muddy the narrative, the city nevertheless takes shape through profiles of Brahmins who share their views of the cultural and political landscape. Benares is especially sacred to Hindus as a place to make peace with death. Curiously, it is this aspect of the city that really comes to life in this meandering but engaging account.
RaveBooklistNow and then the story is nearly drowned out by the nine narrating voices, yet Lalami impressively conducts this chorus of flawed yet graceful human beings to mellifluous effect ... An eloquent reminder that frame of reference is everything when defining the \'other.\'
MixedBooklistThe story, switching between Brooklyn, Ukraine, and Russia, is ungainly and often veers into melodrama, leaving the characters with little room for growth. Yet Reyn delivers an elegiac look at the rootlessness that accompanies immigration while also tenderly capturing long-distance mothering and the challenges that all parents face when letting go engenders a terrible sense of powerlessness.
Novuyo Rosa Tshuma
MixedBooklistZamani’s opaque motivations distance the reader from the narrative, and sometimes the plot struggles under the weight of its hefty ambitions. But Tshuma ultimately delivers nuance and eloquent character studies, proving that an ugly history leaves no soul unscarred in its wake.
MixedBooklistEmmons...paints a convincing portrait of a young woman on the cusp of self-discovery. But other plot elements, such as a romance with a Florida newspaper reporter, remain sketchily drawn, as do the undercurrents of sexism faced by both woman of science. The story shines in its descriptions of weather phenomena, but the magical-realism elements leave more questions unanswered in their wake. A charged premise that provides an occasional spark but not the high-voltage intensity it promises.
MixedBooklistFarah’s exploration of the challenges of assimilation is a worthy goal, but a fair number of plot elements remain underexplored in a story that unfolds more like a dramatic play than a novel, complete with sudden exits by key characters. Repeated allusions to the 1920s Norwegian classic Giants in the Earth, which tracks early Norwegian assimilation in North America, feel forced. Nevertheless, Farah offers a soulful look at the divide between zealous ideology and secularism.
RaveBooklistGayatri Rozario is proof that we are the product of our circumstances. In 1930s India, she was forced into marriage because her family saw that as the only respectable choice for her. Unfortunately, matrimony stifled the young artist’s creative impulses. Up until then, Gayatri’s father had indulged her desire for education and shown her a glimpse of the wider world when he brought her on a tour of Bali. But Gayatri bottles up her potential after marrying until a visitor from the past, a German man, opens new possibilities for escape ... Roy peppers her novel with intricate descriptions of small-town India and weaves an eloquent and tragic story of straitjacketed lives upended when history and personal ambition intersect.
MixedBooklist\"The Himalayas, the world’s tallest mountain range, are intimidating enough, but Sarasvati is the most daunting of them all. Surrounded by sheer icy vertical drops and nearly insurmountable passes, the peak has shaken even the most persistent climbers. But the mountaineers in this brisk story are more persistent ... Froderberg peppers the novel with vibrant descriptions of the Indian subcontinent and weaves them in with contemplative takeaways about the sport of climbing ... After a while, the language becomes as esoteric and almost as difficult to process as the thin mountain air. Nevertheless, the harrowing adventure is ultimately suspenseful and nerve-racking, and the shifting emotional dynamics between the various members of the group efficiently spin a compelling story.
RaveBooklistFuller...is a master of propulsive action, making the ground spin as each unreliable narrator takes center stage. Every measured sentence...builds on itself with the crumbling estate providing the saturated backdrop for this ultimately macabre tale. A distracting plot element or two notwithstanding, Fuller’s tale offers a gripping and unsettling look at the ugly side of extreme need and the desperate measures taken in the name of love.
Bernice L. McFadden
PositiveBooklistThe prepubescent Abeo faces endless horrors in a life of ritual servitude, and McFadden...pulls no punches in immersing the reader in the utter darkness of Abeo’s suffering. Even more terrifying than Abeo’s trials is the revelation that even the educated can be swayed, under pressure, to commit the most brutal acts. This harrowing yet compelling tale is not for the faint of heart but does promise redemption in the most trying of circumstances.
RaveBooklistHurley’s debut is a breathtaking performance, portraying not just the ugly corners of an abusive relationship but also how faith can color the contours of our lives. With absolutely spot-on descriptions of Boston, this spellbinding story adds much-needed nuance to the discussion of faith and what we’re willing to forsake in the name of absolution. Yes, the master is creepy and manipulative, but that’s almost beside the point. Even if Nicole could eventually break free, she would only be treating the symptoms and not the disease. That is the real horror.
MixedBooklistWolas (The Resurrection of Joan Ashby, 2017) takes on weighty themes such as atonement and faith, but the paper-thin characters teeter under that heavy burden. Gorgeous writing notwithstanding, it’s hard to look beyond the affluence and the endless vats of Arnold Palmer cocktails to sympathize with their plight. Too much polish and too little substance.
PositiveBooklist\"Though a bit disjointed, interspersed, as it is, with musings about historical figures and insights into colonialism, Kumar’s immigrant tale is nonetheless arresting.\
PositiveBooklist\"...[a] visceral and electrifying debut ... Gael’s ruthless manipulations make her a memorable character, but her fire, uncharacteristically, fizzles out toward the end. The novel also loses pacing as it lingers a tad too long on the Occupy Movement, and its somewhat neat and sappy ending doesn’t quite meld with the story’s early energy. Nevertheless, in Gael, Hughes has created a mesmerizing and compelling force.\
Shahriar Mandanipour, Trans. by Sara Khalili
PositiveBooklistThe novel’s halting narrative flow, alternating as it does between two \'scribes\' on Amir’s left and right shoulders, respectively, is disorienting at first, but the patient reader will be rewarded with a dazzling mosaic of a troubled young man and a troubled yet gloriously rich nation.
RaveBooklist...[a] stunningly resonant debut ... With remarkable assurance, Gabel takes the four through their shaky early performances and expertly ties their individual and collective lives together with generous doses of empathy ... A virtuoso performance.
RaveBooklist\"...[a] quietly brilliant novel about motherhood, families, and race ... his portrait is quite possibly the best peek at motherhood and its disorienting seesaw effects on a middle-class suburban woman that we have seen in a long while ... A stunning accomplishment.\
RaveBooklist\"How do you take the teeming microcosm that is Lagos, set it against a backdrop of Nigeria’s slow suicide by oil, and still manage to write one helluva novel? You weave a crisp story that uses well-fleshed characters and a razor-tight plot and stick closely to the \'show not tell\' philosophy ... What follows is a tangy Ocean’s Eleven–esque escapade that exposes class and ethnic divides in the country even as it manages to mock the West for its colonial gaze toward the African continent as a whole. Full of nuance, the story spares no one as it careens toward its satisfying finale.\
RaveBooklist\"In a tightly knit, compulsively readable tale, Davies precisely captures the spirit of untamed curiosity and middle-aged ennui that would have us abandon established societal norms and everything we hold dear only to follow our hearts to uncertain outcomes.\
PositiveBooklistFirst-grader Zach narrates Navin’s heart-wrenching debut, and his innocent voice effectively grounds the story ... Navin adds layers of (occasionally cloying) complexity. Navin explores the intersection between violence and mental illness in this important and timely book.
PositiveBooklist\"First-grader Zach narrates Navin’s heart-wrenching debut, and his innocent voice effectively grounds the story ... Navin adds layers of (occasionally cloying) complexity. Navin explores the intersection between violence and mental illness in this important and timely book.\
RaveBooklist\"...[a] mind-blowing debut ... Complex and dark, this novel will simultaneously challenge and reward lovers of literary fiction. A must-read.\
RaveBooklist...this sharp and astute debut essay collection reveals a young author who is wise beyond her years and whose keen eye moves beyond tired tropes about identity struggles ... Her ample talent and keenly observed essays will surely win her followers, especially at a time and place when authenticity is a rare and much-valued currency.