…[a] charming novel disguised as a book of short stories … In Segal’s world, a world where domestic tragedies occur against the backdrop of historic human cruelty, people tend to behave badly not out of a perverted sense of ambition or power but from a deep need for attachment and belonging. And so it’s crucial that the book doesn’t move in a straight line … Lore Segal is an astute and gentle observer, and Ilka Weisz (née Weissnix), for worse and for better, has made it through another of her books. It’s hard not to wonder what will become of her now.
As the stories unspool and intertwine, one realizes that only in the hands of a master do a few vaguely defined characters and themes create such an exquisite tapestry … The protagonist of Shakespeare's Kitchen is Ilka Weisz, a scrappy, opinionated Jewish refugee who has appeared in slightly different guises in Segal's earlier novels ... The cumulative power of Shakespeare's Kitchen lies in Segal's dazzling ability to merge the mundane details of life — a missing pencil sharpener, a tipped-over garbage can — with the arc of human emotions.
Reading Lore Segal's fiction is like peeling away intricately patterned wallpaper only to find another layer underneath. Shakespeare's Kitchen seems to me the best book by one of our best writers … In her best story, ‘The Reverse Bug,’ Segal adjusts the nonnative perspective. She populates the story with a Basque, a Turk, a German, a Jew, and a Latin, not to cast the ordinary world as fresh and strange but to accomplish the reverse: to make the strange seem ordinary … As I read Shakespeare's Kitchen, the critic in me left and I absorbed these stories with complete self-forgetfulness. Then the critic returned to explain why: They have force, feeling, scope, and form. The form is peculiar, decorated, precise, with a posture of thought akin to poetry.