RaveThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)Monica Ali’s rich, sensitive and gloriously entertaining novel – her fifth, and possibly her best – juggles so many questions and plot lines that we keep expecting one of them to break free and become detached, like the crazily orbiting fragments of Yasmin’s new life; yet everything remains utterly coherent and convincing. Weighty topics, such as race, class, cultural identity and immigration, surface as part of the tragicomedy of everyday life ... opens with a delicious collision, the kind of extended set-piece that fleshes out the novel, and at which Ali excels, brimming with extremely funny moments of excruciating social comedy ... For all its precise comic timing and consummate plotting, the novel’s real strength lies in its depiction of complex social encounters, leaving the reader to decide which side, if any, to take. Sometimes, the absurdity helps us to make up our minds ... feels at once everyday and exceptional, a love letter to the richness of London life.
RaveThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)... tender and exhilarating ... The novel explores an entire system of forces that shape our identities—history, both personal and national, race, gender, sexuality and the movement of people across international, cultural and class borders—and dramatizes the collision of individual choice with these external pressures ... If this sounds like a lot to process in just 300 pages, it isn’t, because Memorial’s restless excavation of modern identity is artfully wrapped up in a romance narrative that is also a transpacific quest for parental love ... [a] wisecrack along racial lines perfectly illustrates the novel’s cultural awareness and confidence, as well as Washington’s fine judgement of timing and tricky situations.
RaveThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)Politics and intimacy collide constantly in Tomasz Jedrowski’s enthralling debut, which locates Ludwik and Janusz’s search for sexual and emotional liberty against a wider backdrop of a country struggling to define its own identity ... Although the novel’s moral compass is always clear—we remain firmly on Ludwik’s side, constantly hoping that he will stick to his principles and find a way to forge a safe, lasting relationship with Janusz—it manages never to be judgemental. Decisions that might feel like betrayals in a different context come across as simple acts of survival; and kindness often emerges in the most unexpected situations ... Jedrowski...uses a combination of precise plotting and careful slips in time to stretch the action of that single, fateful summer into a portrait of a country trying to come to terms with its past.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review... richly layered ... simple explanations give way to deep nuance ... Throughout the novel, beauty and violence coexist in a universe that seems by turns cruel and wondrous ... Alisak is haunted by the loss of his friends and his homeland and the loose ends of his life, and from his story and that of the other characters, Yoon has stitched an intense meditation on the devastating nature of war and displacement.
PositiveThe Guardian... [a] lively panorama of evolving contemporary China ... Is it even possible to write convincingly about a country of China\'s size and history without condensing its complexities into a single version of the truth? These are questions faced by the many journalists, writers and artists whom Osnos profiles, but they are also questions that Osnos himself has to confront from the outset of his project. He negotiates these issues by employing the techniques of the assiduous reporter, meticulously following leads and allowing subjects and situations to speak for themselves ... Osnos has a gift for capturing touchingly comic elements in situations that might otherwise seem overly earnest ... Only rarely...does Osnos permit himself to step beyond the boundaries of his carefully constructed neutrality ... These moments leave us wanting more by way of personal involvement in the narrative from this acute observer of the nation, especially towards the end of the book when we sense that eight years in Beijing are beginning, physically and mentally, to take their toll. In under 400 pages, however, this volume provides a highly readable, colorful introduction to the complexities of modern China.
PositiveThe Guardian\"... exuberant, meticulously plotted ... In a swirling, always surprising storytelling structure that at times recalls David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, Sudbanthad skilfully orchestrates the huge cast of characters ... For all its plotting pyrotechnics, the novel is at its best when it settles on delicate moments of human intimacy.\
RaveThe Guardian (UK)... thrillingly imagined and provocative ... To some extent the novel is tackling the issue of cultural appropriation, but it never ventures close to anything like a crass attempt at resolution, instead using the complexity of its narrative and thematic structure to hint at the difficulty in understanding the confluence of history, power and the individual. None of it is designed to be easy for the reader, and the organisation of the novel constantly gives the impression of being in search of something that lies just beyond the grasp of total comprehension.
RaveThe Guardian\"In her debut novel, Teo artfully collects various stories and rolls them into one seamless narrative. It is at once a subtle critique of the pressures of living in a modern Asian metropolis; a record of the swiftness and ruthlessness with which south-east Asia has changed over the last three decades; a portrait of the old juxtaposed with the new (and an accompanying dialogue between nostalgia and cynicism); an exploration of the relationship between women against the backdrop of social change; and, occasionally a love story – all wrapped up in the guise of a teenage coming-of-age novel.\
PositiveNPRThis world of absurdly over-the-top wealth is the playground of the characters in Kevin Kwan\'s breathless, high-speed romp through the lives of a group of megarich Asians ... The cast of gloriously overblown characters is never-ending in its capacity to pile excess upon excess ... It\'s precisely this gleefully camp humor that saves the novel from being a roll call of predictable characters who flirt outrageously with Mills & Boon cliche ... The expository nature of the novel is no more evident than in the copious footnotes, whose chirpy humor can\'t disguise their earnestness in explaining Malay honorific titles or Hokkien swear words.
Edouard Louis, Trans. Lorin Stein
RaveThe Times Literary Supplement\"The sense of exclusion – from middle-class privileges and from the narratives that form society’s understanding of itself – hangs heavy in Louis’s intense and uncomfortably thrilling book ... Clara’s breathless run-ons mirror the complex brilliance of Louis’s more formal phrasing, raising the crucial question of the hierarchy of language. To whose narrative style do we attribute more importance: the everyday or the refined? Who do we trust with our expectations of authenticity – the now-Parisian, educated Louis, or his country sister? And who is telling whose story? Lorin Stein’s assured translation manages to capture the almost hypnotic rhythms of Louis’s original, and it crucially retains the warmth of Clara’s idiosyncratic Picardy-infused expressions without ever flirting with working-class parodies – an essential element in a novel that is unflinching in its examination of class and discrimination.\
Min Jin Lee
RaveThe GuardianSpanning nearly 100 years and moving from Korea at the start of the 20th century to pre- and postwar Osaka and, finally, Tokyo and Yokohama, the novel reads like a long, intimate hymn to the struggles of people in a foreign land. Min Jin Lee meticulously reconstructs the relatively overlooked history of the large ethnic-Korean community in Japan ... The novel’s multi-generational narrative allows this rich history to unfold at a pace that is beguilingly peaceful ... Much of the novel’s authority is derived from its weight of research, which brings to life everything from the fishing village on the coast of the East Sea in early 20th-century Korea to the sights and smells of the shabby Korean township of Ikaino in Osaka – the intimate, humanising details of a people striving to carve out a place for themselves in the world. Vivid and immersive, Pachinko is a rich tribute to a people that history seems intent on erasing.
PositiveThe Financial TimesThe book is at its most powerful when dealing with the passage of time — that fundamental element of Segalen’s definition of exoticism ... Although James admirably avoids drawing parallels between his subjects on the grounds that their circumstances were so different, he admits that his fascination with them stems from his own situation as a contemporary exote.'