PanThe Boston Globe\"On one level, the Guerraouis, their modest accomplishments, and even more modest dreams, serve as a perfect locus for the troubles that ail a nation, particularly post-9/11. Change has come to America, and there are always brown people to blame. On another, this explanation is simplistic in its calculus. We do not read fiction to wring our hands at yet another crisis precipitated by racism but to discover some larger truth. For that we need breadth and depth. Lalami’s novel, lacking focus, falters on both counts ... Despite moments when Lalami draws deft connections between secular and religious beliefs, the novel contains unfortunate missteps. Each character speaks in the first person in alternating chapters in the manner of witnesses giving testimony, a clever technique with great potential, yet with little to distinguish one voice from the other, their differences merge into a curious homogeneity ... [Lalami] has an abundance of talent and a dedication to the big questions of our time.\
PositiveThe Boston GlobeThese brothers are composites in their affectations of street culture and birth order, but Francis is rendered beautiful in his specificity. He is laconic yet tender, fiercely loyal without needing to explain the origin of his love. Girls adore him; boys respect him not for any particular thuggery but because of his intensity ... Chariandy, like Mohsin Hamid, keeps his prose spare and tight ...Throughout, past, present, and future nudge against each other with a syncopation that mimics the disparate musical traditions that Jelly weaves together amid the hair oils, grease, and sundry filth of a makeshift hair salon cum studio where the highest hopes are nurtured and also shot through the heart and left to bleed. It is fitting that the tell overwhelms the show in this novel ... Sometimes, secrets are all an immigrant is allowed to keep.
PositiveThe New York Times\"Bala is particularly fond of the diminutive, the “small” of things, hands, wounded children — all designed to elicit sympathy. Stock characters crowd the narrative ... The author plays with time through flashbacks told in the present tense, an innovative approach well suited to capturing the upside-down nature of refugee narratives. With a treasure trove of material — what can’t a writer do with a boatload of refugees? — it is mystifying that Bala has chosen to ignore the obvious: letting us see the refugees as perfect in their imperfections rather than rendered as pawns in this political narrative, just as they were trapped in a war not of their choosing.\
RaveThe Boston GlobeThe prose moves with swift transitions, mirroring the stealth of the time-traveling refugees, and details are offset by a wonderful dark humor. Long sentences curl around entire histories, but quietly, as though witness is sufficient in a novel that covers the repetitive facts of human struggle, and the ineffable beauty of human resilience ... if we are looking for the story of our time, one that can project a future that is both more bleak and more hopeful than that which we can yet envision, this novel is faultless.
MixedThe Boston GlobeSadly, despite rich individual narratives, there is little time allowed to linger over star or bit player. In Adiga’s India of ancient rules and modern life, where nothing and everything is illegal, the cast of Indians, with their singular depravities, perversions, and fantasies, are folded into the stew of slum and cityscape at high speed. In pacing that seems more screenplay than novel, the story careens through domestic, street, and cricketing scenes like a cross between Danny Boyle’s Slum Dog Millionaire and Craig Gillespie’s Million Dollar Arm, to a raucous chorus made up of India’s police, small and large entrepreneurs, politicians, film stars, crows, pigeons, and vehicular traffic.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewArudpragasam captures the vernacular while sustaining a startling lyricism ... Even silence in the midst of war is rendered with bracing clarity. The reverence that is paid to the minutiae of refugee life, a brilliant choice, is sometimes undermined by too much fixation on detail ... This is a book that makes one kneel before the elegance of the human spirit and the yearning that is at the essence of every life.
Javier Marias, Trans. by Margaret Jull Costa
RaveThe Boston Globe\"...a tale that is brilliantly muddied so that it can, like the history of nations, be read in many ways. In doing so, he has perhaps written the book that defines his oeuvre as one of Spain’s most celebrated contemporary writers ... Marías creates a symphony, stylistically uniting his themes with repeated images: our taste for certain stories; the need to disinter the past, which is inevitably about regret, and wrong-doing; and time, which continuously resets memory.\