RaveThe Boston Globe\"Ha Jin...writes novels defined by profound thoughtfulness and quiet, unshowy grace. His unadorned prose; cool, hypnotic style; and nuanced, compassionate portraits of characters seeking freedom and fulfillment while running up against bureaucratic, political, and personal obstacles have won him a deservedly admiring readership. His latest novel, A Song Everlasting marshals many of these winning features in the service of a deeply moving portrait of an artist as an immigrant in a new land ... a little long—some details seem extraneous or distracting and there are unnecessary repetitions—but by novel’s end, we are deeply bonded to its protagonist, who emerges from one setback, trauma, and blow after another with his dignity, idealism, and essential goodness intact. The quiet heroism of his life, his commitment to growth and art, his emergence into the experience of ordinary contentment are impressive and touching.
MixedThe Boston GlobeHenkin is an emotionally generous, deft, witty, and deeply intelligent writer, and his new novel displays these qualities in spades ... Despite its sensitivity and wit, Morningside Heights never succeeds in being either deeply engrossing or deeply moving. The time-jumps, especially the skip from Sarah’s toddlerhood to the onset of Spence’s Alzheimer’s, with descriptions of the marriage postponed or entirely occluded, have the effect of undermining our emotional attachment to the characters and our understanding of their bonds with each other. The multiple perspectives add texture but also loosen our connection to Pru and Spence. Spence in particular is never fully inhabited by the narrator and remains an enigmatic, rather blurry figure ... The novel’s lack of strong focus is perhaps best evidenced by its misleading and misguided title. References to the Upper West Side neighborhood that houses Columbia dot the novel, but the place never acquires the status of a resonant setting ... a worthy and accomplished novel that sadly doesn’t either wholly win the affections or command our admiration for its less-than-the-sum-of-its-parts aesthetic achievement.