PanThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)Aswany’s crudeness is often attributed to his mockery of his subjects – to the excesses of wealth, power, corruption – but it is hard not to think of his character choices as outdated, even archaic: victim in some sense to the author’s own upbringing in a patriarchal society, as well as to his shortcomings as an observer of the contemporary world. And it is hard, too, not to wonder who his audience is. Surely most serious readers, both in Egypt and elsewhere, would enjoy a more complex set of personalities, rather than these typecast figures that seem so tailored to notions of Western exoticism ... If The Republic of False Truths were to have a strong point then it might reside in its ability to recapture this heady, hopeful period...But Egyptians now live under a regime whose authoritarianism, brutality and corruption would have been hard to imagine even during Mubarak’s era – and this matters to our critique of Aswany’s novel ... Six or seven years ago, before the extremity of the current administration took hold, The Republic of False Truths could have read like a bad Scorsese-esque script-in-the-making, exaggerated and excessive, crammed with enervating sensationalism and dull stereotypes, yet at least close to the events at hand. Today, however, it feels like nothing more than a glib and tone-deaf rendering of the past: one so out of touch with the present, and so unreflective, that it makes one question Alaa Al Aswany’s very purpose in sitting down to write it.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe book’s three-part outline (\'The President,\' \'The Coup,\' \'The President\') is deceptively simple ... Not everything from his New Yorker pieces makes it into the book, but much seems to ... In reading The Buried, which I admit is the kind of book I might have criticized in the past, I find myself changing my mind. What Hessler offers is something that no Egyptian could ever really write, and in that way, he adds alternate dimensions to a story, or the stories, of this place we call home, with all the good intentions of simply his own singular viewpoint and experience.
PositiveThe New York Review of Books\"Winter... was fraught, overwhelming, dire ... The pace picks up in Winter, possibly as Smith finds her creative stride. Remarkably, out of the abysmal state of world affairs she finds the capacity for inventiveness and play ... Winter moves with such ferocity that while reading it one is forced to pause, stand back, reread, and take a bird’s-eye view of the absurdity of what our culture has become: we battle to keep people fleeing war-torn countries out of our \'homeland\' for fear of what they might bring, how they might terrorize our lives, our jobs, our communities ... One can imagine Winter—which is fast-paced and frenetic, sometimes to the point of exhaustion—being read eagerly some hundred years from now, in a future that tries to make sense of an Earth where much has imploded.\
RaveThe New York Review of BooksHamid is finely attuned to those shifts, as well as to the underpinnings of desire that remain intact even at times of upheaval, and in both sweeping and detailed strokes, his two characters become entangled against the backdrop of the city’s unraveling ... a meticulously crafted, ambitious story of many layers, many geopolitical realities, many lives and circumstances ... Exit West is steeped with losses that we know are coming, that we are told of long before they unfold. And yet, rather than stunt the emotional depth of the book, these fates, sometimes mentioned in passing by the wise, knowing third-person narrator before we experience them in detail later, don’t detract in their revelation. Rather, for the reader it’s an emotional journey lived twice, the second time more harrowing than the first ... In the end, Hamid’s is a breathtaking, complex, sweeping view of the current global predicament, not just a crisis of refugees, but the conundrum of borders and wealth.