PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewEven as the novel charts the voyages of its vagabonds, it represents an attempt to draw the periphery into the center, steering us toward the provinces as it renovates the Cuban novel ... This chaotic, democratic bricolage — each voice vulgar and vulnerable in its own way — styles the novel as a series of interviews. Taken together, they represent a cubist inquest into the soul of Cienfuegos ... The novel’s form isn’t its only radical quality.
PositiveThe New Yorker\"... The Twice-Born becomes a moving, if maundering, riff on what it means to be modern ... Taseer attempts to focus the book on his interactions with Brahmins, Hinduism’s priestly caste. (They are the twice-born of the memoir’s title, because they are considered to be born a second time upon their scholarly initiation.) But Taseer is foremost a wanderer, and the roving form of the book echoes his penchant for circularity. He writes as though Benares, in all its many dimensions, can be apprehended only through overlapping, fractal perspectives, one of which is his own ... [Taseer\'s] His is a search for identity and narratable experience—indeed, for him the two are indistinguishable. But, by the memoir’s close, he has only circled the sense of clarity that he sought.\
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...a sprawling, at times unwieldy, epic ... in its omnivorous interest in the world, The Dragonfly Sea is a paean to both cultural diffusion and difference ... the novel dives into a subplot about the war on terror. It seems gratuitous at first — in fact, it is — but Owuor’s descriptions of religious extremism sketch a virulent strain of Islam against which she can contrast Ayaana’s benevolent spiritual journey ... The parallel between this early Sufi icon and her contemporary devotee isn’t perfect. But it reminds us that, as much as The Dragonfly Sea traces the globe, it also depicts an internal pilgrimage.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewPatel’s Indian-American characters aren’t reduced to the status of model minorities or 7-11 owners. Instead, they’re introduced through a panorama of character studies ... Patel gets the patter of the Indian-American household just right; the prim palaver around the tea salver strikes the right balance of nosiness and restraint ... Patel’s characters may not learn from experience, but they pursue it with vigor — part of what makes the collection so refreshing. Where so much fiction about the immigrant family tends to become an exercise in anthropology, a study of inherited customs foisted on a child caught between cultures, Patel’s characters are fundamentally engaged with the world ... His gifts are not so much psychological as dramatic. He has a screenwriter’s knack for getting everyone in the same room, and the early stories fuse plot and subplot in a consistently surprising fashion.
Orhan Pamuk, Trans. by Ekin Oklap
PositiveThe New YorkerThe Red-Haired Woman, translated by Ekin Oklap, brings together what Pamuk considers the crowning myths of the East and West: Ferdowsi’s Persian epic, the Shahnameh, and Sophocles’ tragedy Oedipus the King … In reënacting the fates that befell the tragic heroes of Sophocles and Ferdowsi, The Red-Haired Woman is dominated by two extreme moods: lull and bombshell. The novel assumes a steadier pace in its final chapters … The Red-Haired Woman drapes Turkey’s political situation in the language of myth, suggesting that the ancient pairs of Oedipus and Laius and Sohrab and Rostam may have company in the present.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewWhat separates Unnikrishnan from Rushdie, and the vast literature of exile that precedes them, are his subjects. Temporary People explores the lives of arguably the least privileged class of nomads in the 21st century: guest workers ... Temporary People is a robust, if somewhat scattered, entry into the nascent portrayal of migrant labor in the Gulf ... In Unnikrishnan’s imaginings, this ever-present threat of displacement comes to the fore only during his characters’ most naked moments. His depictions of sex are entangled with the ganglia of residency, race, class and gender, as well as the instability and inadequacy of language, the collection’s constant refrain ... Unnikrishnan’s collection poses its questions obliquely, but demands explicit answers. What causes a society to look like this?
RaveThe New RepublicIn Other Words is not Lahiri’s best book; it is, paradoxically, her most interesting one. The circumstances of the book’s publication—the conceit of a successful American author giving up English for Italian—will overshadow its actual text. This is understandable, for the details of her notebooks and tutors were always going to take a back seat to the grander project she had in mind: fashioning a new self out of words.