THE LOST AND THE FOUND: AND OTHER STORIES

This first book, a story collection showing immense mastery of character, dialect, and narrative, won the 1993 Elmer Holmes Bobst Award for Emerging Writers. Born in Fresno, California, Marsella lives in Paris and writes largely about people of the underclasses or Third World, men and women from places like Chile, Nigeria, Istanbul, Morocco, and Mexico, slipping like a cat into myriad psyches and argots. Though she writes usually in a voice mirroring that of her characters, she fears no oddity of language, coming up with nutty tidbits that drive you to the dictionary. (When did you last use nimiety, embrangle, emulous, or partible?) In ``Miss Carmen,'' a Chilean woman arrives ``in the Valley of San Joaquin'' in California, gets a job polishing silver for a rich woman, gets a crush on a Mexican foreman but loses him, perhaps through her own small-minded pride. In ``The Roommates,'' Mary, a big, lanky girl from Kenya, shares a room in Paris with Selma from Istanbul, then with Selma's lover, a Greek sweatshop foreman who also happens to be their married boss, and finally, after two years, abandons the dominating Selma to go live with an albino English gentleman in London. In ``Testimony,'' a Hispanic priest falls obsessively in love with his seminary's young atheist gardener and finds himself driven into invisibility, or so he thinks, as day by day his own body parts begin disappearing. In the comic title story, an unmarried Mexican woman living in Paris works for four years as a hired clapper for TV's ``Objets TrouvÇs'' (or ``The Lost and Found Show''), seeks her lost father through the personals, and, after she's betrayed by St. Jude, patron saint of the hopeless, finds herself instead. Distinguished indeed. May Marsella take on the novel.

Pub Date: April 15, 1994

ISBN: 0-8147-5502-X

Page Count: 200

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1994

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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