Category: Reviews

Review: The Return

The Return by Hisham Matar Review by Feroz Rather During the days of popular revolt against Gaddafi’s authoritarian regime, Hisham Matar—the 47-year-old Libyan writer who has made London his home—calls an old man living in Zliten. “I watched them from my window,” the old man tells him. “They came with bulldozers and dug up the graves, one after the other.…

Review: A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles Review by Megan Tilley Elegantly crafted and dazzlingly clever, Amor Towles’s novel A Gentleman in Moscow transcends the often gloomy descriptions of Soviet-era Russia to create a world both insulated from the outside world and endlessly influenced by it. While many novels set in tumultuous 1920s Moscow spend considerable time on the metropolis…

Review: The Ghost of Birds

The Ghost of Birds by Eliot Weinberger Review by Daniel LoPilato Half a dozen stories from the Arabian Nights open with an enigmatic, perhaps untranslatable metaphor. In “The Tale of the Enchanted King,” the first sentence describes a story “which, if it could be engraved with needles at the corner of the eye, would be a lesson to those who would…

Review: Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders Review by Theodore Yurevitch I didn’t know what a bardo was before reading George Saunders’s new novel Lincoln in the Bardo, and I can’t say I was sure afterward, either. I knew Saunders’s work, though, as many do; he’s the author of several acclaimed collections of short stories, novellas, and essays. Not long ago, one of…

Review: Driving Without a License

Driving Without a License by Janine Joseph Review by Josh Brewer One has come to expect quality from Alice James Books. The venerable New England cooperative continues to publish the best new female voices while expanding their catalogue in recent years to include men and even more international poets. That expectation of quality has been met and exceeded with Janine Joseph’s Driving without…

Review: You Should Pity Us Instead

You Should Pity Us Instead by Amy Gustine Review by Karen Tucker “Most serious and productive artists,” writes Joyce Carol Oates, “are ‘haunted’ by their material—this is the galvanizing force of their creativity, their motivation. It is not and cannot be a fully conscious or volitional ‘haunting’—it is something that seems to happen to us, as if from without, no matter what craft…

Review: Mrs. Engels

Mrs. Engels by Gavin McCrea Review by Sean Towey Close your eyes and imagine Karl Marx. Can you see him? That giant head covered in curly hair, that jolly girth? Good. Now bring to mind his partner in ideology Friedrich Engels. A little bit harder to do, right? Is it Freud with more hair? Or maybe Nietzsche but less Mark…

Review: White Blight

White Blight by Athena Farrokhzad Translated by Jennifer Hayashida Review by Charlotte Muzzi Athena Farrokhzad’s White Blight, translated by Jennifer Hayashida, is a book-length lyric poem about the pressures of living in a culture that recognizes your own culture as other. Farrokhzad was born in Tehran and raised in Sweden. It is difficult not to read the book as directly…

Review: The Meursault Investigation

The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud Review by Feroz Rather Albert Camus is a modern prophet of humanism. He was born in 1913 in Mondovi, Algeria, into the French settler community. For eight months he lived with his father who, when the World War First broke out, was called up. Lucien was wounded in the Battle of Marne and died…

Review: A Little Life

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara Review by Megan Tilley At the center of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara is love. The kind of love that binds four men together over the decades, as their lives expand past their shared college experiences. The kind of love that spurs a professor to adopt his former student to give him the parents that he…