... stunning and visceral ... Every page speaks to our current zeitgeist. Each character in these stories is occupied and occupier, trapped in a moral and existential crisis that's unnerving because it's evergreen, because the nature of human tragedy is our own making and the lessons we keep learning never seem to take ... Serizawa's brave storytelling gives us more than an epic arc. She creates a narrative that is in and of itself a multidimensional space. As well, it's an homage to the surreal artistry of writers like Jorge Luis Borges — whose voice she manages to honor with a story which is not an echo but her own capacious, original illumination ... here is the sagacity of Serizawa's book — her enchantment draws us into a channel of experiences and voices seemingly connected only by the consequences of their tragedies — war, betrayal, rape, murder, abandonment. But within these parables is her paradox — that joy comes from sacrifice, or the understanding that it exists within sacrifice, and not as a consequence but as a matter of one fact — the fact that a space can exist as a blessing, in every moment we take as a beginning.
... ambitious ... Serizawa’s most gripping stories capture the horrors of the Japanese experience of the war and its aftermath ... Neither the Americans nor the Japanese emerge as anything but tragically, sometimes barbarically, human. Occasionally the visceral power of these stories is undermined by forced exposition ... But for the most part Serizawa’s fiction is convincingly rooted in the intimate, yet still provocatively collective, quandaries of her characters.
Serizawa assembles careful layers, a moral labyrinth that may have no exits ... The author does not offer condemnation, but Serzawa is unmistakably and keenly aware of every compromise and failing. It’s all inexcusable logic, but also a fact ... is called a collection of interconnected stories, but the stories reflect and transmute each other. The characters are bound together across more than a century by the family tree in the front of the book, and one character’s testimony often completes—or complicates—another’s. The book resists the label of novel, but even more so resists the label of collection. The stories don’t move forward a unified plot, but they do present a unified collage, a mosaic of a single anguished face ... If that makes the book sound dark, it is. Inheritors offers a heavy and often painful read. Serizawa captures the brutal physical details of war in sometimes excruciating detail ... The gruesome descriptions are rare, but there’s an equal toll to the type of witness Serizawa offers and asks the reader to bear ... The collection closes brilliantly with a pair of stories enlarging that focus, peering into a future in which the children or grandchildren of those characters, for whom the great wars of the past are a Wikipedia entry, try to determine whether the world will lurch into ecological ruin with an equal blindness ... reveals an author of fierce intellect looking at war legacies from this angle and that, working her way into their nuances. By deconstructing the toolkit of the novel, Serizawa dodges the inevitability of a war narrative to offer a wistful hope or a melodramatic tragedy. Instead, she creates a more powerful form in which she can align the pieces to magnify each other like the lenses of a telescope. This powerful, intelligent book stands in the company of William T. Vollman and W.G. Sebald and their investigations of life during wartime or in the long shadow after. But the tone, the structure, and the territory are all Serizawa’s, in a book that deserves to become a crucial pillar in the literature of war.