5 Book Reviews You Need to Read This Week ‘Literary Focus’

Our feast full of great reviews this week includes Stephen King on Celeste Ng’s Our lost heartsLauren Michael Jackson for Namwali Sarpils the canyonsJennifer Szalai in Hua Hsu stay honestClaire Loudon on Camilla Shamsi best friendsSarah Chihaya on Yiyun Li’s goose book.

Brought to you by Book Marks, “Rotten Tomatoes for books” from Lit Hub.


Celeste Ng_Our Missing Hearts Cover

“Celeste Ng’s miserable America is milder, which makes it more believable—and thus, more disturbing…firmly written and well executed…because Inge’s narrative of stories is so quiet–quiet, almost–the occasional explosions of violence are truly terrifying…I will not give up The brilliant conclusion to Ng’s book; suffice to say that the climax deals with the power of words, the power of stories, the persistence of memory…there are strange loopholes to note.There is no Covid-19 in our lost hearts, Although there can be no doubt that the epidemic has given rise to dark intrigues concerning Wuhan Province… Ng also ignores social media… Ng succeeds despite these occasional blind spots, in part because her anger is contained. and focus, mostly because she is often fascinated by the words he uses.”

Stephen King on Celeste Ng Our lost hearts (New York Times book review)

The Furrows_Namwali Serpell

“..resisting the constants of language like a moth in a windowpane…Syrpil writes in roots – trunks stretching underground that send buds out at unpredictable intervals…The drive of the novel is cognitive and emotional as well, Serbil is one of those novelists who have metabolized their quirks and dexterity Literary theory … Although the novel’s story lines shift and twist, the subtlety of Serpell’s language remains in marvelous control … A novel that embraces both anxiety and foreplay … Serpell reminds us on every page that there is nothing less reliable than language – that Every story is necessarily a betrayal… The result is a novel that restores and reshapes the genre of lamentation, engulfing it with as much eros as pity. The canyons are the paths we make and the paths we cover, and the changing ground of Serpell’s novel denies all certainty except that the canyons are where we all live.”

– Lauren Michael Jackson, for Namwali Serbells the canyons (New Yorker)

Hua Hsu_Stay True: Diary Cover

“..a softly ache…Saying that this book is about grief or coming of age doesn’t quite do him justice; and it’s not primarily about being Asian-American, though there are glimmers of that too. Hsu captures the past by conveying both his moods and his idiosyncrasies.” … This is a memoir that gathers strength through accumulation – all those moments and gestures that make up an experience, the bits and pieces that come together in life … Some Kane “theory” seems to leave its mark on Hsu – even if, like anything its influence is so profound Underground, it manifests itself less as a doctrine than as a disposition…joy stay honest It creeps up on you, and silly jokes are smoothly distributed all the time… After Ken’s death, Hsu writes a letter to him, detailing all the things Hsu might be missing out on. “So be with me, okay, Ken?” he wrote. Can you stay with me a little longer? “

– Jennifer Szalai in Hua Hsu’s stay honest (New York times)

Camila Shamsi - Cover of Best Friends

“Over the past twenty-five years, Camila Shamsi has amassed a body of work that is arguably best enjoyed on the eyes. Shamsi’s writings are intelligent, morally committed, and aware of cultural nuances and contemporary concerns. It just doesn’t look good… Childhood scenes are examples. For some of Shamsi’s finest writing.The author grew up in Karachi, vividly evoking the sensual experience of the city and early adolescence.Throughout the novel, she looks forward to friendship—about how close intimacy is to hate.But in the second section, the two women, with their identical differences, look like illustrative examples. The plot is very clear, and very blunt compared to the superior modern novels that explore how childhood friendships play into adulthood.. Zadie Smith North West (2012) and swing timing (2016) comes to mind. And it becomes impossible, then, not to compare these two immediate contemporaries in general, and to find Shams so sorely lacking… I think this kind of thing matters more to some people than others. I am a helpless advocate, a slow reader with no regrets. To me, closing your ears feels like going to an art gallery in sunglasses. But perhaps, if you could read for the content alone, this novel would strike you as a second-rate better–a lively discussion piece that addresses some of the major issues of our time.”

Claire Loudon on Camilla Shamsi best friends (Times Literary Supplement)

– Sarah Chihaya on Yiyun Li’s goose book (Atlantic Ocean)

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