... the book’s detachment makes it more often funny than sad ... The lack of space between the vignettes seems intentional, as well. It is hard to follow where one stops or starts. Some are about the after-effects of the death, others about life before. A few address both. It all lends Black Forest a dreamlike quality. Mréjen’s rolling sentences add to that surreal feeling ... Black Forest is off-kilter, putting the reader in a strange space. All of this is in the service of making readers think about death. It seems Mréjen’s goal is to break her audience away from what the narrator her mother calls 'the cult of the carefree.' Grounded, concrete observations counterpoint the dreaminess of the novel, breathing life into it. Mréjen’s writing pops when she writes about the widower that cannot bring himself to cancel his deceased wife’s mailing subscriptions or the young woman whose anxiety forces her to text everyone after a dinner party to apologize for her acceptable behavior.
In language that’s laconic and concise, Mréjen writes affectingly without emotional entanglement—'her aim is not to eulogize but to describe, to enumerate, to record,' writes Assef (making her full-length translation debut) in her elucidating ending commentary ... While the novel is 'certainly not for members of the cult of the carefree,' as Assef wryly notes, internationally-savvy seekers will undoubtedly be intrigued.
Filmmaker Mréjen’s extraordinary English-language debut is a catalogue of mortality ... Mréjen’s crystalline prose never grasps for sentimentality, and her meticulous, humane, and powerful volume unforgettably depicts the way the dead experience life after death in the traces they leave in the minds of the living.