Pam, Daniel, and Joe might be the worst punk band on the Lower East Side. Struggling to scrape together enough cash and musical talent to make it, they are waylaid by surprising arrivals—a daughter for Pam and Daniel, a solo hit single for Joe. On September 11, 2001, the city’s unfathomable devastation coincides with a shattering personal loss for the trio. In the aftermath, Flora comes of age, navigating a charged political landscape and discovering a love of the natural world.
Doxology isn’t fundamentally a music novel. It has many other things on its mind, including a subversive history of American politics from Operation Desert Shield through the start of the Trump presidency, and it’s superb. In terms of its author’s ability to throw dart after dart after dart into the center of your media-warped mind and soul, it’s the novel of the summer and possibly the year. It’s a ragged chunk of ecstatic cerebral-satirical intellection. It’s bliss ... Zink writes about music as if she were a cluster of the best American rock critics...crushed together under a single byline. This novel is replete with erudite signifiers that drop all over the place, like a toddler eating a pint of blueberries ... Doxology puts [Zink] on a new level as a novelist ... This book is more ambitious and expansive and sensitive than her earlier work. She lays her heart on the line in a way she hasn’t before ... Doxology loses a bit of its sweep, if none of its intelligence, in its final half. Yet it has taken a running leap, regardless, at greatness. Zink writes as if the political madness of the last four decades had been laid on for her benefit as a novelist ... Like a mosquito, Zink vectors in on the neck of our contemporary paranoia. She has got a feral appetite for news of our species, good and ill. As dark as Doxology can be, it’s no wonder that its title means a hymn of praise.
... powerful ... [Zink] balances...specificity (Coding! Punk rock! D.C. neighborhoods!) in the service of what feels like a larger goal ... One small problem, especially in the first half, is that everyone sounds the same ... Even if the book tries to do too much, the undeniable result is how much a reader will care about this girl and her dad and the mom and those grandparents ... At a moment when things are most dire, in the book and maybe in our own lives, a creaky but noble book brings us close to present day and concludes with an enviable familial quietude, and perhaps a small bit of implied advice.
In Doxology, Zink has upcycled the plot points of her earlier novels—affairs between college students and their professors, unplanned pregnancies, environmental activism—onto new characters, adroitly parsing the generational conflicts and collusions between millennials and Gen X ... Zink tends to operate on a register of pastiche, and in Doxology, she reassembles the stylistic and narrative elements of the 'post-9/11' novel by the likes of Jonathan Franzen, Claire Messud, and Jonathan Safran Foer, excising from them their more sentimental purviews and inserting instead a measure of dry appraisal ... What seems to be a personal problem turns out to be, as in many of Zink’s plots, hereditary, a move that grants Zink leverage to ravel her characters in predicaments that are comically banal, mostly because of her characters’ struggles to separate family trauma from personal failures ... Zink’s writing, and Doxology in particular, is perhaps best understood as...a long argument against solipsism articulated through an exaggeration of its effects. The personal isn’t political, but neither is the converse of this statement quite true.