Book Reviews Archive

Leïla Slimani’s The Perfect Nanny and the Perils of Female Desire

“The baby is dead. It only took a few seconds.” So begins Leïla Slimani’s French bestseller, translated into English by Sam Taylor. The thriller won France’s Prix Goncourt—Moroccan-born Slimani is only the twelfth woman to win the award—and uses an American news story as its source.

West by Carys Davies

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There is a pathos and also an infuriating self-indulgence to the central protagonist, Cy, obsessed with finding lost dinosaurs, rumours of which abound, in the lands beyond the Mississippi.

The Art of the Wasted Day by Patricia Hampl

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Hampl has been writing at the intersection of memoir and essay for most of her life. Now, displaying a heightened partnership of experience and reflection, she revisits people and events with insight produced by leisure and the ostensibly wasted day.

Dictionary Stories by Jez Burrows

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Inherent to Dictionary Stories is the question of what makes an ideal sentence that best reveals the meaning of a word.

Oceanic by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

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Invoking the “boundless” and the “limitless,” Nezhukumatathil sets out a simple, yet profound, argument about our relations with the natural world: the more we feel the ocean’s embrace, the sooner we sense its particular “hum” everywhere.

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

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The Female Persuasion never disappoints: there are twists and turns that keep us guessing, new voices to take on the storytelling task, and heartbreak as friends and lovers disappoint, deceive, and part ways.

The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison

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The Recovering isn’t Jamison’s attempt to revive her narrative instincts, which she fears sobriety has flatlined. Instead, it is an embrace of the hard-learned revised instincts Jamison has developed because of recovery.

Let’s No One Get Hurt by Jon Pineda

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Jon Pineda’s new novel has a vaguely apocalyptic feel, but the only apocalypse is a personal one for sixteen-year-old Pearl, as she comes of age while navigating a completely male world and its undercurrents of violence.

Social Theory After the Internet: Media, Technology, and Globalization by Ralph Schroeder

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Social Theory after the Internet cuts across various disciplines and through different media systems to propose a new theory for the internet’s role in social life.

Awayland by Ramona Ausubel

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It’s great fun to watch Ausubel’s enormous imagination at work and to share the joy that emerges from her writing. That said, the strongest, and most haunting, stories in the collection make the magical real as they examine loss.