7 Most-Favorable Reviews in November 2020
- December 3, 2020
We came, we read, we gushed. Here’s a recap of the titles that left us especially warm and swoony last month.
Homeland Elegies: A Novel by Ayad Akhtar (Little, Brown and Co.). Reviewed by Jack McCarthy. “Homeland Elegies reads as autofiction, taking many facts from Akhtar the author’s own biography and channeling them into Akhtar the character. The narrator, like his creator, is an American-born, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright from suburban Milwaukee whose parents, both doctors, emigrated from Pakistan to America. The choice of autofiction was not made to liberate the author from specific details that bind the writer of memoir; this choice has aesthetic and thematic intent.”
The Exiles: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline (Custom House). Reviewed by K.L. Romo. “The Exiles poignantly explores the issues of social identity, fate, loyalty, and survival during a time in history when women were “less than,” and Anglo society believed itself entitled to decimate indigenous tribes living on confiscated land. From the squalid straw floors and suffering of Newgate, to a ship’s dark and foul hold, to a penal colony in Hobart Town, readers follow these brave women on their journey of survival through inexplicable sorrow, hardship, and loss.”
Here We Are: A Novel by Graham Swift (Knopf). Reviewed by Robert Allen Papinchak. “Begin with a trio of magicians. Shape them into a love triangle. Watch everyone twist and turn. Then throw in a parrot and an epigraph from Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides, Now’ (‘It’s life’s illusions I recall…’). What do you get? A lot of smoke and mirrors and supple narrative prestidigitation from Booker Prize-winner Graham Swift in the form of the bittersweet Here We Are.”
To Be a Man: Stories by Nicole Krauss (Harper). Reviewed by Yohanca Delgado. “What fascinates me is the granular texture of these stories, so full of divine detail that they unfold like the stuff of memoir. The centrifugal core of this collection is the author’s sensibility, the transcendent lucidity of her prose, and the exactness of her world-building. Her stories are anchored in a reality so densely and meticulously textured that they sometimes read like autobiographical fiction, even if the events described seem larger than life.”
A Brotherhood Betrayed: The Man Behind the Rise and Fall of Murder, Inc. by Michael Cannell (Minotaur Books). Reviewed by Dean Jobb. “New York author Michael Cannell recreates Reles’ murderous career and suspicious death in A Brotherhood Betrayed: The Man Behind the Rise and Fall of Murder, Inc. It’s the story of the bloody birth of organized crime in the United States and how the testimony of a single turncoat exposed the Mob’s operations and sent four gangland kingpins to the electric chair.”
Tecumseh and the Prophet: The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied a Nation by Peter Cozzens (Knopf). Reviewed by Chris Rutledge. “When war comes, Cozzens is clear as to who the transgressor is. Good feelings could not last forever, given the United States’ growing population and hunger for land. Through a series of exploitive treaties, from the 1795 Treaty of Greenville to the 1803 Treaty of Fort Wayne and 1804 Treaty of St. Louis, the U.S. government stole land (not always from its actual owners) for pennies on the dollar.”
V2: A Novel of World War II by Robert Harris (Knopf). Reviewed by Tom Young. “One of the most intriguing corners of World War II, the German rocket program, provides the backdrop for Robert Harris’ latest novel, V2. Near the end of the war, Dr. Rudi Graf realizes he has made a Faustian bargain. All his life, he’s dreamed of designing rockets to touch space, to expand man’s reach and understanding. But he and his fellow engineers needed a level of funding they could find only from Adolf Hitler’s military. Their tool of science became a weapon of mass destruction, the cause of indiscriminate civilian deaths in the name of a lost and abhorrent cause.”
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