PositiveThe Guardian (UK)... it is difficult to imagine any other contemporary writer who could achieve so improbable a conflation of doctrine and feeling ... Occasionally Della appears too virtuous by half, sanctified by love to an extent you’d think would put her beyond the touch of any human hand, still less that of a ne’er-do-well. But since the entirety of the novel is placed within the consciousness of Jack, we conceive of her as he does: the arrival of an unsought and unmerited grace ... Robinson’s style...has been refined into a restrained and occasionally almost casual lexis, concerned with a penetrating engagement with psychological realism and the lasting import of apparently small acts. Of all her novels, this is the most frankly amusing: the deep moral seriousness of Robinson’s vision is frequently leavened with set pieces that almost approach farce ... The reader may well feel subject to a sermon, but the sermon is necessary and rarely heard.
RaveThe Guardian (UK)Mitchell is expert at excavating the seams of loss, ambition and mere chance that lie under the edifice of fame ... The reader is impelled from the first by a kind of rushing, gleeful energy ... Mitchell is evidently enthralled by both the romance and the practicality of music ... The novel’s prose is for the most part consciously easeful and frictionless: it is a supremely readable novel, if the quality of readability is taken to be one which is difficult to achieve and a relief to encounter. It is enlivened by an attentive eye for the particulars ... At times, the frictionless quality of the prose extends to the story itself, so that it is possible to read for several pages at a time without quite feeling that events and characters have landed on the consciousness. The book is most alive and most compelling when Mitchell slips the surly bonds of the realist premise and lands in his own extraordinary imagined worlds ... Mitchell does not castigate or punish Utopia Avenue for their yearning after lights and adulation: he is kinder and more wise. He proposes instead that nothing could be more natural, or in fact more commendable, than acting on the old and common longing to be heard above the crowd, even— perhaps particularly—at the cost of security and sanity.
RaveSeattle Book ReviewRebecca Serle has crafted a technically perfect novel. The pacing and plotting do not let go of the reader for one second ... My jaw literally dropped when I got to the end and saw how flawlessly she fit together the beginning of the story with the ending. It’s a thing of rare beauty when an author can balance their story as masterfully as this one does.The story itself, is far deeper and more dramatic than the cover copy leads one to believe. It sounds like a second chance romance book, but what you get is far more than that. Be prepared for deep emotions, a few laughs, and possibly a few tears as well.
PositiveSeattle Book ReviewFor the first quarter of this book, I was contemplating whether or not I should just put it down. It felt a little stream-of-consciousness-like and the threads weren’t coming together for me. However, I persevered and I’m so glad I did. I couldn’t put the book down after a while ... This ended up being a poignant and heartfelt novel about the effects of grief and the paths people take to get through life.
PositiveThe Seattle Book Review... a well-written story that offers a glimpse into the neurotic world of writing and publishing. The characters are interesting and deeply flawed in their own distinct ways. Although the climax of the story is quicker and quieter than it could have been, the overall story arc is satisfying and conclusive. It swept me right up into its world and didn’t let me go until the last page. Book lovers, aspiring writers, and current writers will all enjoy this book. Fans of unconventional and twisty romances will also find a compelling story within these pages.
Olga Tokarczuk, Trans. by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
RaveThe GuardianDrive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead—...arriving in a deft and sensitive English translation—provides an extraordinary display of the qualities that have made Tokarczuk so notable a presence in contemporary literature ... a mere whodunit would hardly satisfy a novelist who said \'just writing a book to know who is the killer is wasting paper and time,\' and so it is also a primer on the politics of vegetarianism, a dark feminist comedy, an existentialist fable and a paean to William Blake ... Though the book functions perfectly as noir crime – moving towards a denouement that, for sleight of hand and shock, should draw admiration from the most seasoned Christie devotee – its chief preoccupation is with unanswerable questions of free will versus determinism, and with existential unease ... In Antonia Lloyd-Jones’s translation, the prose is by turns witty and melancholy, and never slips out of that distinctive narrative voice. It also contains perhaps the most bravura translation performance I have ever seen ... It is an astonishing amalgam of thriller, comedy and political treatise, written by a woman who combines an extraordinary intellect with an anarchic sensibility.
Andrés Barba, trans. by Lisa Dillman
RaveThe GuardianBarba inhabits the minds of children with an exactitude that seems to me so uncanny as to be almost sinister ... But the book is by no means without relief, nor is this a cynical exploitation of an atavistic fear of the child ... This is as effective a ghost story as any I have read, but lying behind the shocks is a meditation on language and its power to bind or loosen thought and behaviour ... Barba’s use of genre conventions is both affectionate and knowing ... I wondered how closely Lisa Dillman’s prose mimicked Barba’s lexis and cadence in Spanish ... it is faintly odd, sometimes affectless, the phrasing occasionally slightly awry; but this is so wholly in keeping with the book’s uncanny effects and plays so significant a role in its accumulation of cool terror that I can only assume it is a superbly skillful translation.
Ahmed Saadawi, Trans. by Jonathan Wright
RaveThe GuardianIn this surreal, visceral and mordant novel ... Saadawi stitches the narrative together from so many points of view and points in time, one often overlapping the other, that the tension has a tendency to dissipate. But this is in keeping with the novel’s open preoccupation with war’s absurdity ... Saadawi’s strange, violent and wickedly funny book borrows heavily from the science fiction canon, and pays back the debt with interest: it is a remarkable achievement, and one that, regrettably, is unlikely ever to lose its urgent relevancy.
MixedThe GuardianThese are vividly peopled pages...Such are the book’s pleasures; but it contains, so to speak, no small number of missing links … One begins to feel that Wilson is motivated by personal dislike, as if he was once cut by Darwin at a party and has since nursed l’esprit d’escalier ever since. That Darwin endured chronic gastric distress is depicted as a failure of mind, not of body; his grief at the early death of his mother is portrayed as ‘compulsive time-wasting’ and ‘mindless brooding’ … This book, with its elisions, inaccuracies, vivid set pieces and palpable dislike for its subject, has I suspect achieved its end: the air is thick with ruffled feathers.
P. D. James
RaveThe Guardian...[a] terrific collection ... There is a suggestion that James, in her short fiction, indulged a sense of mischief not quite possible when serving the demands of the novel. In 'The Murder of Santa Claus', she permits herself a little metafictional flourish, when the narrator professes himself to be 'no Dick Francis, not even a PD James'; while in 'The Victim' she so successfully inhabits the mind of a murderer delighted by 'a fountain of sweet-smelling blood' that the reader is almost enticed into sharing his delight ... a worthy addition to [the] much-missed author's body of work. It is difficult to imagine a more pleasing afternoon than one beside a fire or radiator, with a pot of tea to hand and autumn rain against the window, while settling in for a series of delightful shocks.
PositiveThe GuardianWasserberg is concerned with the nature of family, and the destructive powers of the ties that bind; it is possible to read the novel as an odd fable on the old doctrine of Original Sin ... the reader begins to perceive a great deal about the workings of Foxlowe to which Green is oblivious – a difficult narrative trick exemplified in Henry James’s What Maisie Knew, and one for which Wasserberg should be admired ... For some time after reading, I found myself unable to shake the images Wasserberg conjured up, instead sinking more deeply into them – which is testament to the storytelling powers of this talented novelist.
PositiveThe Financial TimesThe Wonder is both an excoriating meditation on the malignant folly of fundamentalism — not least where women are concerned — and a whodunnit. Perhaps inevitably, one succeeds rather more than the other. Donoghue’s great skill is in trapping the reader alongside Lib in that sordid little cottage ... Donoghue’s measured prose is at its best when depicting damaged and failing flesh with extraordinarily vivid economy.
RaveThe GuardianWeathering cannot be accused of zipping along – nor does it need to: its power lies in the gradual accrual of unnerving detail, as irresistible as a Dorset river in spate. Once immersed, you can no more escape its pull than Pearl can climb out of the river’s current.