RaveBookforumThe narrator is Vladimir Brik, a Bosnian-American writer, and the spine of the story is his quest, almost a hundred years later, to unearth the truth about the death of Averbuch ... Hemon finds a story big enough to contain and structure his extensive repertoire of fiercely held obsessions, which include, in no particular order, Bosnia, America, identity, history, young men’s friendships, death, resurrection, the nature of evil, storytelling, the impossibility of truth, the siege of Sarajevo, old photographs, the absence of God, violence, war, fraud, and espionage ...echoes create a layered density and arouse a sense of interconnectedness among the novel’s story lines ... Brik is a naturalized American, but Hemon is far too sophisticated to suggest that the US represents an antidote or corrective to so much corrupt history ...the fearless and spirited expression of a turbulent literary talent and, at the same time, a cold, fierce blast of moral outrage.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewIt has been said that NDiaye’s work is impossible to decode at the level of either psychology or conventional narrative. Certainly the phantasmagoric atmosphere she creates — diffuse realities and uncertain identities, fractured causality and impossible chronology, a constant movement of regression — suggests that her inspiration lies not in the real world but in nightmares or, more specifically, in the Freudian unconscious. In this view, Ladivine is the record of a trauma suffered by the woman who first left that tropical country, a trauma severe enough to haunt succeeding generations. It’s a wild ghost story, rooted in immigration and exile ... The dislocated women of Ladivine are trapped in repeating narratives of violence and loss. They are all brave women who have come from a place where events in which they are involved have already occurred, events they are unaware of but are forced to revisit. It’s a form of self-belief, finally, that saves them, regardless of how grim their fates may appear. The ending of Ladivine is perfect, both poignant and strangely hopeful.
See What I Have DoneSarah Schmidt
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewThe permeability or porousness of the human body is stressed throughout the novel. There are repeated references to blood and bleeding, to smells of rot and urine, to self-cannibalization ... The Borden house is, in short, a house of horror, as in its way is Lizzie Borden’s psyche. The dynamic interplay of these ideas and images works wonderfully in the first half of the novel, and goes far to create an atmosphere of truly grisly unwholesomeness. Schmidt convincingly establishes the conditions in which that most unnatural of acts could occur, the apparent murder by a child of her parents ... The narrative structure of See What I Have Done squanders that tension. There are too many voices and shifts in the time scheme as the novel moves into its final hundred pages. The effect is to undermine the dynamic previously established, both in the Borden household and in Lizzie’s sickening mind ... Sarah Schmidt has created a lurid and original work of horror. It’s a pity that some of its force has been dissipated by its disorganized and overlong second half. As a result, the novel lacks the ever-tightening narrative torque that might more effectively have delivered the lovely shocker on the last page.