RaveThe Washington PostSlippery, assured ... Erpenbeck doesn’t reduce their romance to mere allegory. She makes the past feel vital and alive, narrating it all in a loose, fluid, present-tense style that often interweaves Katharina’s thoughts with those of Hans, presenting their dialogues as long, unbroken sentences, the better to highlight their collaborative quality ... Frequently reads like a collage, braiding together art and history and music ... Erpenbeck presents the intimate and the momentous with equal emphasis, so that personal and historical time run on nearly parallel tracks, until they have no choice but to converge ... She has made the past seem like the present.
MixedThe Washington PostHe runs through the facts of Schulz’s childhood and artistic life, but he devotes the majority of the book to Schulz’s life under the Nazi occupation ... The author narrates in detail the discovery, removal and eventual public display of the murals. Balint uses the events to probe questions of cultural and ethnic ownership ... Balint’s reportage on the murals scandal is both briskly written and thorough; his ill-advised flights of pseudo-Schulzian prose are less successful. Yet this new book frequently feels like a missed opportunity. Schulz still does not have his own full-dress biography originally written in English, something he has surely earned. But Balint is more interested in the great writer’s enslavement and the aftermath of his death than in the vast majority of his life.
RaveThe New RepublicSplit into seven interlocking sections and told over centuries, the novel is an inventive exploration of which stories we prioritize and which we push down, in our popular hunger for narratives of crime, justice, and redemption. Darnielle marshals his many interests toward something approaching social critique ... Devil House is at times an investigation, a memoir, a piece of reportage, and, in its most elusive moment, the story of a British king by the name of Gorbonian, written in the sort of faux–old English favored by writers of low-rent swords and sorcery ... This is fundamentally a novel about whose perspectives we gravitate toward and whose we bury when telling stories about crime and suffering ... The novel’s best moments describe extremes. Darnielle expertly handles the violent scenes, presenting the death and dismemberment in a cool, controlled voice, heightening the horror by his refusal to obscure it ... but I wasn’t sure I’d learned anything new about Jesse at all. He had been consumed entirely by what Parul Sehgal recently termed \'the Trauma Plot,\' that tendency writers have lately taken toward prioritizing suffering in place of characterization ... Jesse is all wound, no person ... Or so I felt until the novel’s final section ... It’s a formally audacious [book], a work of fiction-presented-as-truth nested inside this larger fictional project that serves, ultimately, as an exploration of writing fictionalized reality.