7 Most Favorable Reviews in March 2022
- April 5, 2022
We came, we read, we gushed. Here’s a recap of the titles that left us especially warm and swoony last month.
Journey of the Mind: How Thinking Emerged from Chaos by Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam (W.W. Norton & Company). Reviewed by William Rice. “Journey of the Mind: How Thinking Emerged from Chaos is a jarring accomplishment. It’s a heroic attempt to explicate the essential nature of thinking that overturns assumptions, pricks human pride, and maybe even puts a scare into the reader. It’s also an energetic exposition that begins as a biology lesson and winds up offering an evolutionary argument for kindness. It will almost surely change your mind about the mind.”
Seasons of Purgatory: Stories by Shahriar Mandanipour; translated by Sara Khalili (Bellevue Literary Press). Reviewed by Emily Mitchell. “In all these stories, memory comes to light piecemeal, changing readers’ and characters’ understanding of both the past and present as it does. The intersecting perspectives are at once bewitching and disorienting. Often, the reader is told very little about whoever is actually telling the story. The result is a tremendously uncanny experience in which the motives of the teller become part and parcel of the story’s mystery.”
Glory: A Novel by NoViolet Bulawayo (Viking). Reviewed by Susi Wyss. “Ultimately, despite the crushing of every act of resistance and a final, poignant tragedy, Bulawayo imagines a better life for her characters. One can only hope it will manifest for real Zimbabweans, as it is long overdue. Imaginative, sweeping, hard-hitting, eye-opening, and unabashedly political, Glory is an important read. While it’s much too early in the year to make predictions, I’ll make one anyway. In 2013, Bulawayo’s first book, We Need New Names, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. This year, Glory will win it.”
Thank You, Mr. Nixon: Stories by Gish Jen (Knopf). Reviewed by Jennifer Bort Yacovissi. “In the collection’s final story, ‘Detective Dog,’ it takes Betty’s perceptive 9-year-old son, Robert, adopting the title persona and his father’s magnifying glass, to peel back the layers of the mystery as he interviews his mother for a class assignment. That his older brother, straining under a desire to join Hong Kong’s protesters, has packed up and left only adds to Robert’s need to find answers. Here, in their vast New York apartment, thousands of miles from their ancestral homeland, Robert grasps Betty’s words, ‘The Chinese government likes to know all your family members.’ Sometimes, the small, hidden acts of resistance are all that courage allows — and sometimes, that’s powerful enough.”
Life Without Children: Stories by Roddy Doyle (Viking). Reviewed by Mariko Hewer. “Despite the story’s relative lack of plot, Doyle’s depiction of a middle-aged man struggling to find his place in life is poignant and recognizable, and the backdrop of the pandemic serves as a grim reminder that everything is indeed changing. Whether or not Alan returns home ultimately seems less important than how he feels about his decision — yet even that, in the way of real life, is left somewhat ambiguous.”
Border Less: A Novel by Namrata Poddar (7.13 Books). Reviewed by Alice Stephens. “The culminating story, ‘Kundalini,’ is a defiant, oracular pronouncement of the feminine creative force against men who seek to silence women, from the vindictive king of One Thousand and One Nights, who sets out to slaughter all the virgins in the land to assuage his ego in the face of his wife’s perfidy, to ‘the oldest heir to the white man’s burden, the gatekeeper to literary diversity’ (oh, how I cheered to read that passage), to the privileged husband who allows his wife to bear the brunt of society’s unequal expectations.”
The Damage Done: A Novel by Michael Landweber (Crooked Lane Books). Reviewed by Chris Rutledge. “The Damage Done is a fine work, one that forces us to consider how we’d respond were physical violence to end. Would we use our freed-up mental space to invent fresh cruelties, or might we harness it to advance the common cause of humanity? And if a violence-free world were really within reach, would we be brave enough to live in it? I won’t give anything about the book’s conclusion away except to say that the reader’s time is rewarded.”
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