PositiveThe Boston GlobeLike Philip Roth’s late masterpieces Everyman and Nemesis, Paris in the Present Tense is about confronting the horrors of aging and death ... [Helprin] has always been most comfortable in the epic mode, retaining a classicist’s eye for beauty while preserving enough of the contemporary world to speak to the present. His prose has an aching beauty that stems from his unembarrassed devotion to tradition and limpid sentiment ... Paris is heavily speckled with get-off-my-lawn moments, where the story is interrupted by diatribes only loosely related to the plot...Readers might begin to worry that Jules’s tirades, not just the relatively innocuous ones but the quasi-bigoted ones, represent Helprin’s sentiments about contemporary France. This crabby Helprin is hardly the novelist’s most appealing self, but the tone of Paris, alternately somber and crotchety, articulates Jules’s dilemma, still tempted by a world he increasingly disdains.
PositiveThe San Francisco ChronicleThe bond between Turks and Armenians, and the tangled dance of victimizer and victim, is actually the subject of The Bastard of Istanbul ... Two young women, one Turkish and one Armenian, one living in Turkey and the other in the United States, find themselves inextricably drawn together by history and family — two unique motors of remembrance that share more in common than might be clear at a glance ...details the process of two families, and two pasts, drawing closer together, with the sins of the family standing in for the collective sins of a country... Shafak is incapable of bringing harmony to such unsettled matters, even in the pages of a fictional narrative. All she can do, and does, is shine a light on the past, and keep it shining so that everyone — Turkish, Armenian, and otherwise — must look.