Book Reviews Archive

A Place to Call Home in Dele Weds Destiny

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Dele and Destiny are secondary characters in their own wedding story, and this is the beauty of the novel. The actual wedding is never about the couple. It’s about families coming together, about how love breaks us down, exposes the truth, and leads us to find ourselves.

Art and Autonomy in June Gervais’ Jobs for Girls with Artistic Flair

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June Gervais’s debut novel is a revealing portrait of making your way professionally and personally into adulthood. Gina realizes that her identity is untethered to an outside force such as her dream vocation—a truth some of us take a whole life to find out.

Distraction and Delight in Caio Fernando Abreu’s Moldy Strawberries

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Caio Fernando Abreu’s stories suggest that states of distraction are what allow desire to surface in the first place. They lie somewhere between fables with wry moral lessons and diary entries full of emotional impasses.

Facing the End of the World in Erin Swan’s Walk the Vanished Earth

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Swan acknowledges there will be more than fires and floods to wrestle with as the world ends. People will still fall in love and disappoint each other; children will still long for their mothers and their mothers will still try and fail to protect them.

Surreal and Ordinary Torture in Miguel Bonnefoy’s Heritage

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Miguel Bonnefoy’s prose successfully bears witness to the sheer madness of torture.

Refusing Detachment in Ada Limón’s The Hurting Kind

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Limón’s new collection refuses numb detachment or an easy forgetting. She affords constant dignity to those whose fragilities are too often framed as liabilities, those who can’t (or won’t) avoid the incessant constellating of experience and memory.

Meaningless Craft and Crafting Meaning in Ali Smith’s Companion Piece

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Craft, in Ali Smith’s hand, is malleable. It produces meaning that is disparate from the terms and antecedents of its making.

The Body Family’s Sharp and Intimate Portrayal of Trauma

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Here we have trauma in its contradictory particularity, its incalculable aleatory combinations—not flattened or reduced at all, but sharp, salient, and intimate.

A Layered History in DeMisty D. Bellinger’s New to Liberty

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DeMisty D. Bellinger’s new novel beautifully showcases the way history endures within us, and how while someone else’s past may influence our present moment, we still have agency.

Collective Despair in Ana Blandiana’s Five Books

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The poems in Romanian poet Ana Blandiana’s collection offer an uncensored, searing reality of the poverty that Communism created, depicted as an imagistic tragedy from the perspective of those who suffered through it.