RaveThe GuardianGeorge’s journalistic eye is combined with sharp moral judgment ...[George] is painfully aware of the price of ignorance about blood, especially women’s blood This absorbing, vital book by one of the best non-fiction writers working today is a wonder in its own right.
MixedThe GuardianBreak.up goes further still than Walsh’s previous work in challenging genre boundaries. The contract between reader and writer is as uncertain as the one between the woman and the man, who never agreed what kind of relationship they were forming together. It’s a novel, because it says fiction on the jacket. But this is a novel that is very strangely written, with quotes from other writers in the margins (Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud, an unexpected appearance from Nazi architect Albert Speer, a line from Chris Kraus’s I Love Dick—another novel in which a female writer turns a consuming crush into fiction). It’s also travel writing, because as the woman passes through Europe’s cities, she notes down her observations ... There are parts of Break.up that thrill ... But when she uses the women of Amsterdam’s red light district as a backdrop for a digression on sex as performance art, she seems as culpable as the men in Bluebeard’s library of turning them into props ...What I feel in the end is admiration without pleasure. Walsh places feelings on display, yet keeps them austerely inaccessible, and I see the point of this without enjoying the effect ... Break.up is a book you could fall for if you like your fiction and your love objects hard-to-get, but not one, I suspect, that will repay your trust.
MixedThe Guardian... [an] absurdist, word-playing debut...Glass is not operating in the realm of realism. Her characters are both human and not-human ... It’s not obvious, though, why Peach must be made to disintegrate, other than that this is what must happen in the novel of female pain when a character has suffered as much as she can be made to suffer. The climax is a generic formality, and it feels as unearned as it is preordained. Peach outdoes her fellow wound-dwellers by becoming nothing but wound, yet the words, skipping along on the surface of language, touch little of the trauma they want to harness ... Glass has a poet’s ear for the architecture of sound and an imagination full of the bizarre. But there must be other kinds of story to tell about being female than ones that end in nothing.
MixedThe GuardianLacey is better at building an intriguing setup than she is at delivering on plot. The one she assembles here, however, is an ingenious sci-fi scenario that tweaks at the edges of what we believe about that part of us we call a self ... Male brutality and sexual violence erupt into the novel, sometimes luridly. Why things should be this way, and whether they can be better, are great questions. Maybe, if Lacey had put them more precisely, she could have given more in the way of resolution.
RaveThe GuardianGod and grooming, child death and grotty sex, blame and betrayal – this should be a recipe for morbid curiosity. But when everything is explicitly foreshadowed, nothing is at stake. Fridlund carries on meticulously dressing her traps long after they’ve been sprung. In some ways, this is the standard literary fiction shortcoming of thinking plot is the least important part. In others, Fridlund’s weaknesses are her own. Characters tend to be vague outlines with tics. Leo tucks his shirt in a lot; Linda’s mother baptises her obsessively. But there are none of the subtle mechanisms that make characters coherent – and capable of acting surprisingly. There is only one mood: slow and sad ... For a novel that aspires to say something about about power, History of Wolves is strikingly impotent.
PanThe GuardianWhere Middlemarch achieved understanding for even its most flawed characters, no one in Private Citizens rises above the level of detestable ... Maybe if Tulathimutte had allowed himself to play the classic realist narrator, his characters could have enjoyed a little more space to act. Instead, they are cramped and inert. Very little happens to or is done by them for most of the book, and the flimsy threads of plot run alongside each other rather than intersecting ... In the absence of complex characters and a detailed social world, Private Citizens is less Middlemarch and more I Love the 00s.
RaveThe GuardianWhere Yapa succeeds is in evoking the interconnectedness that the antiglobalisation movement both responded to and attempted to transcend ... The question of what makes violence legitimate runs through the novel, but the novel is also in love with violence. The means overwhelm the ends.
PanThe GuardianAlthough Samantha Hunt turns out the creepy imagery and Christianity, suspense runs short and horror is too often undercut by an infuriating structure that serves symbolism over story...the writing seems to aim for a Cormac McCarthy-ish American gothic spareness, but the simplicity it attains is only superficial