RaveThe Los Angeles Times...a great novel of character: the story of a real woman’s real grief and survival ... Gray’s characters devour the world through their senses, a voracious, bodily quality that's a gift in writing the story of a woman for whom meaning began in the body — who hoped to awaken the world through her own body, no less ... In this era of history commandeered by toxic masculinity with delusions of superhumanity, there’s a lot to be said for remembering the truth of the body, particularly the female and otherwise marginalized bodies that are so likely to be written out of the story...Isadora is a heavenly celebration of women in charge of their bodies.
The History of Bees
MixedThe Los Angeles Times...the novel illustrates that climate change isn’t a problem of tomorrow but of today. And by stretching the story’s tentacles back to the days of the Industrial Revolution, Lunde also demonstrates that the unsuccessful attempt to override nature isn’t merely underway, it’s two centuries old. Our children and grandchildren, goes the trope — but also us, our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents ... It’s a deftly managed if somewhat predictable story — but perhaps it’s precisely the novel’s pedestrian qualities that have made it such a winner: The History of Bees brings climate change into the realm of book-club fiction ... Lunde’s exploration of the tension between human instinct and the need for selflessness couldn’t be more timely. It’s just a shame that readers must settle for an earnest but contra-21st century and possibly contra-human entreaty about the meaninglessness of a single human life, rather than a more satisfactory reckoning of our shared future.
Fever DreamSamantha Schweblin
RaveThe Los Angeles TimesFever Dream should position Schweblin comfortably alongside young American writers such as Amelia Gray and Jesse Ball ... the novel represents a perfect marriage of form and subject, in which its narrative instability — which is so of the literary moment — viscerally recreates the insecurities of life in the Argentine countryside today ... Schweblin, like Gray and Ball, has found ways to electrify and destabilize the physical world. In particular, she shatters the notion that there might be such a thing as a safe space ... Fever Dream, then, is a novel about childless parents and parentless children, about split identities and living on land you can’t trust — which is to say, it's a novel about Argentina’s struggles. More than that, it’s the scariest of all things: a ghost story that is, in essence, true.
Sudden DeathAlvaro Enrigue
RaveThe Los Angeles Review of Books...[a] sublime novel ... dazzlingly vivid scenes, in a dazzlingly vivid translation ... Sudden Death does nothing less than deconstruct and reimagine the origin story of the modern world, and it does so in a way that allows history to breathe and shimmer and shift much like this mantle ... a work so beautiful that it might take your breath away.
The Mother of All QuestionsRebecca Solnit
PositiveThe Los Angeles TimesIn its content, The Mother of All Questions reinforces Solnit’s gift of hope; in the circumstances of its publication in this bleak year, it obliges readers to put it to use ... Solnit’s connective imagination often functions by boiling things down to essences, and in The Mother of All Questions, the key essence is silence, 'the universal condition of oppression' ... Solnit brings everyday aggressions into new focus, and outlines a cohesive phenomenon where we might have seen a series of isolated events. Notably absent, however, are the silences perpetrated by women against other women: the ways in which privileged women — often straight, white and cisgender — silence gay, bisexual and trans women and women of color, even and sometimes especially within the feminist movement.
Her Body and Other Parties
RaveThe Los Angeles TimesThe collection is that hallowed thing: an example of almost preposterous talent that also encapsulates something vital but previously diffuse about the moment...This is bodily fiction, written for and within a culture that’s rediscovering the body: through today’s feminism, with its new frankness about women’s bodies (as when legions of women called Mike Pence to tell him about their periods) and through the broader cultural shift toward valuing the experience of the body in the moment ... In Machado’s stories, reclaiming the female body doesn’t mean ignoring the damage so often done to it but rather subverting the narrative that allows this damage to define the body ... Machado is a master of such pointed formal play, of queering genre and the supposed laws of reality to present alternative possibilities ... Machado reveals just how original, subversive, proud and joyful it can be to write from deep in the gut, even — especially — if the gut has been bruised.