A thoughtful look back at one of the great movements for social and political change of the last century and its...

REPERCUSSIONS

From anti-apartheid revolutionary to aging exile, Henry Wegland struggles to balance truth and justice, love and passion; in this gentle and heartfelt first novel, nothing is black and white.

It's 1961. A year has passed since the Sharpeville massacre, and organized resistance against apartheid is picking up steam in South Africa. A young white lawyer has decided he must join the newly formed military wing of the African National Congress; the risks to his family, his career, and his safety weigh in the balance against the future of his country. Other comrades—Nelson, Walter, Slovo—face the same dangers. A lifetime later, Henry, living with his son’s family in Park Slope, Brooklyn, sends his grandson, Saul, to a very different South Africa in search of the loose ends of an eventful life. Debut novelist Schneider spans continents, decades, and generations as he skillfully interweaves Henry’s immigrant childhood with his activist years and reflective old age with vivid immediacy. The diverse cast of characters—young and old; African, European, and American—is deftly drawn with compassion and respect. The novel is finely plotted and lucidly written, with touches of sensuality and lyricism and a keen attention to emotional truth. Schneider tenderly evokes at once the slow decay of marriages and parent-child relationships and the long half-lives of passion and family history; he subtly demonstrates the way trust is eroded by secrecy and how the seed of love can generate love, even across decades.

A thoughtful look back at one of the great movements for social and political change of the last century and its ramifications in the present through the life of one man. It will reward readers interested in South African history as well as those who simply want to be drawn into the well-told story of an unusual life.

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-57962-426-2

Page Count: 230

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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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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