PositiveToronto Star (CAN)“Whereabouts retains some of the qualities much of her English work has: a subtle character full of wry observations, a narrative tinged with melancholy ... As we follow the character, a professor, from the piazza to the bookstore to the bar, these vignettes deepen understanding of why she’s alone and her experience of it, which is neither wholly joyful nor tragic ... Lahiri plays with the idea of insider and outsider in a less obvious way than her books that are more intentionally focused on immigrant narratives ... The interiority of the narrative drives home that the stories we tell ourselves are the most powerful in shaping our destinies. But by the end of the novel, Lahiri also hints at how those stories can change. Lahiri’s latest offers an unintended escape during a pandemic—seemingly mundane scenes at a cafe or country house serve as a taste of an Italian life at a time when it seems further away than ever, a reminder to appreciate the colour in our own daily lives. But it also offers much of what Lahiri’s previous work does: simple but beautiful prose and a character worth getting to know.
PositiveThe Toronto StarThe literary equivalent of zooming out from the perfectly lit avocado toast sitting on a charming window sill to the dank, cramped apartment that your favourite lifestyle blogger actually lives in ... Selecky’s work is smart and subtle. But there were areas I wanted more, for instance, a deeper read into how Lillian’s ideas around self-actualization were changing — the character seemed a little too uncritical to be believable. But maybe that’s the point, that it’s sometimes easier to skim the surface of your real problems while doing a deep dive in your Insta feed.
Edited by Roxane Gay
RaveThe Toronto StarNot That Bad is the title of the anthology ... This logic is inflicted on survivors in many ways, and Gay writes it was a way for her to cope ... Her latest project includes a refreshingly diverse range of writers ... And the contributions are just as diverse — from gut-wrenching stories of assault to sharp analysis of all the ways our culture chooses to ignore the actions of perpetrators in favour of victim-blaming ...Through these essays, Gay and this all-star group of writers prove the point that rape culture is deeply embedded in the way we live, work, date and raise our kids — and it’s not just bad, it’s downright horrifying.
RaveThe Toronto StarHer fiction benefits immensely from her decades of careful observation and sharp analysis as an activist. In The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Roy puts humans at the centre of the messy business of a post-colonial country aspiring to superpower status ... Roy’s mastery knows no bounds. She traces the last few decades of political strife to India’s identity today through an impressive number of characters and subplots ... Through rich storytelling and gorgeous prose, Roy doesn’t just reject jingoistic slogans and nationalistic narratives celebrating the making of modern India — she unmasks them.
RaveThe Toronto StarHamid’s use of magic realism is brilliant, making the point that even if the journey itself isn’t ridden with leaky boats, drowning children and long stays in legally-murky prisons, swapping out an intentionally built life for one where nothing is certain is one of the most demoralizing elements of migration ... Hamid not only tackles these massive themes but also provides unforgettable details exposing the horrors of war ... If you’re numb to the unending talk relating to migration policy, the platitudes and the protest slogans, this book provides a way to reignite much-needed empathy because, above all, Hamid reminds us that no matter hard governments try, they can never really close doors.
PositiveThe Toronto Star...[Smith] doesn’t meticulously document London’s diversity, instead she invites readers into her mind. Her commentary on race is sharp because it’s simply observational ... As a reader, this was the most disappointing part of the book — despite her obsession with the carefully choreographed steps of Fred Astaire and Ginger Roberts, the narrator appears to just float, unattached to anything through time. But Smith makes up for this with her tendency to casually sprinkle wisdom throughout the book ... The plot itself isn’t what will keep you thinking about the book — it’s the puzzles Smith has laid out that readers will keep returning to.