PositiveTimes Literary Supplement (UK)Elements of her early years – working-class lives, fracturing families, adolescent ambition, the lurking shadow of violence, little mercies and larger disappointments – form the kernel of the best stories in The Trouble with Happiness ... At her best Ditlevsen can conjure an entire world in just a few words. The most effective tales here are rooted in unremarkable matters ... Ditlevsen draws on autobiographical experiences to very different ends.
RaveThe Hindu (IND)... gripping ... One of the remarkable strengths of A Burning is Majumdar’s ability to illustrate how easily we abandon others for our own convenience ... Carefully sculpted, with no word wasted, emotionally resonant, and replete with telling detail, A Burning is the calling card of a significant new voice. It is an excellent novel and an impressive debut ... the Muslim girl is called Jivan. This is an unusual name for a Muslim girl, though, especially in Bengal, poorer Muslims can sometimes have Hindu names, or (most often) nicknames. I have not met any — out of the thousand plus Muslims I have met until now — but sociology assures me that this happens ... What is less likely to happen is that people will accept a Muslim girl’s claim that her brother is named ‘Purnendu Sarkar’, as they obviously do in the novel...because the author of A Burning is a person of unusual talent and empathy, I want to bring it to her notice.
PositiveThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)Various other characters, clearly etched, play minor roles, but this is essentially a deliciously paced coming-of-age tale about [Kairo and Jay] ... As Suncatcher traces a kind of awakening in its central characters, it also suggests another, harsher one in 1960s Sri Lanka. ... Gunesekera never labours such matters, letting the reader tease them out ... The novel is pervaded by a sense of threatened beauty: the flash of fish, the flight of birds, the slant of sun on trees, a yearning for innocence. The world described, like Jay, is brilliant, and far more brittle than it seems. The adults seem to blame the gathering clouds on different things, mostly religious and linguistic nationalism. Gunesekera does not give us any other explanation but he suggests ...an explanation more complicit, a failure ingrained deep in the colonial past.