Magnificent ... Row has no end of material ... The reading experience never flags, though I could’ve done with a bit less background ... The traumas of The New Earth repeatedly prompt intrusions concerning long prose narratives themselves: bold forays into metafiction. Such writing has become unfashionable, regarded as a withered branch of Postmodernism, but when Row brings up his art form, he enhances the drama ... The Wilcoxes suffer as many contemporary crises as the Lamberts of Jonathan Franzen, but they prove both more engaged and more moving. The panorama that comes to life around them feels like a masterpiece for our fractured time.
A rich, rollicking novel about a dysfunctional Jewish clan from the Upper West Side and the 2003 West Bank tragedy that derailed them. He has long been drawn to the subject of identity in his work — his earlier fiction and essays interrogate race and ethnicity in often pious, almost hectoring terms — but here he gracefully balances multiple registers to craft a reader’s delight ... Follows the template of Jonathan Franzen’s social-novels-cum-family-sagas...sprinkled (it must be said) with Woody Allen’s twitchy comedy. Row’s up to splendid mischief ... The New Earth isn’t mere satire; Row retains a deep affection for his cast, arguably more than they deserve. He breathes wondrous life into them. Their neuroses — so many neuroses — click into place ... Row runs the risk of piling up too many teetering Big Themes, but the narrative’s assured flow mostly buoys him (and us). He boldly targets intractable issues.
It's a stunning book, a high-wire balancing act that tries to do a lot — and succeeds ... There are many moving parts in The New Earth, and it's to Row's immense credit that it's not difficult to keep up with him. He does, helpfully, provide a timeline at the end of the novel, which switches from the past to the present fitfully ... In the hands of a less skilled writer, this could be a recipe for disaster. But Row weaves all the threads together masterfully; sections flow into one another in a way that's seamless. The switches in perspective and prose style are never jarring except when they need to be, and Row's use of language is surprising, at times, and unfailingly beautiful ... The New Earth isn't an easy book to write about — it's elusive by design. What is this novel, that talks to and about itself, that asks unanswerable questions? The closest answer might be: It's a modern epic that takes an unsparing look at family and national dynamics that nobody really wants to confront. It's ambitious and magnificent, the rare swing for the fences that actually connects.