Galgut extends his extraordinary corpus with a rich story of family, history, and grief.

Three decades of South African sociopolitical history are woven into a saga of loss and missed opportunity that upends a dysfunctional Afrikaner family living outside Pretoria.

Rachel Swart has just died of cancer. Her husband, Manie, and three children, Anton, Astrid, and Amor, are all walloped by different incarnations of grief. Only Amor, the youngest daughter, cares about her mother’s dying wish—that Salome, the Swarts’ domestic servant, receive full ownership of the house where she lives with her family, though under apartheid law, Black people are not legally allowed to own property in White areas. Nobody else pays any mind: Amor is 13 years old at the start and functionally voiceless in her family. The promise is buried along with Rachel, only to be unearthed years later when subsequent family deaths force the Swarts to recollide for the rituals of mourning. Galgut moves fluidly among accounts of every single major and minor character, his prose unbroken by quotation marks or italics, as though narrated from the perspective of a ghost who briefly possesses every person. The language is peppered with regional geography, terminology, and slang, with sentences ranging from clipped (“One day, she says aloud. One day I’ll. But the thought breaks off midway…”) to lyrical (“There’s a snory sound of bees, jacaranda blossoms pop absurdly underfoot”) to metafictional (“No need to dwell on how she washes away her tears”). Galgut’s multifarious writing style is bold and unusual, providing an initial barrier to entry yet achieving an intuitive logic over time. “How did it become so complicated?” Amor wonders at one point. “Home used to mean only one Thing, not a blizzard of things at war.”

Galgut extends his extraordinary corpus with a rich story of family, history, and grief.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-60945-658-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Europa Editions

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021


A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Three woman who join together to rent a large space along the beach in Los Angeles for their stores—a gift shop, a bakery, and a bookstore—become fast friends as they each experience the highs, and lows, of love.

Bree is a friendly but standoffish bookstore owner who keeps everyone she knows at arm’s length, from guys she meets in bars to her friends. Mikki is a settled-in-her-routines divorced mother of two, happily a mom, gift-shop owner, and co-parent with her ex-husband, Perry. And Ashley is a young, very-much-in-love bakery owner specializing in muffins who devotes herself to giving back to the community through a nonprofit that helps community members develop skills and find jobs. When the women meet drooling over a boardwalk storefront that none of them can afford on her own, a plan is hatched to divide the space in three, and a friendship—and business partnership—is born. An impromptu celebration on the beach at sunset with champagne becomes a weekly touchpoint to their lives as they learn more about each other and themselves. Their friendship blossoms as they help each other, offering support, hard truths, and loving backup. Author Mallery has created a delightful story of friendship between three women that also offers a variety of love stories as they fall in love, make mistakes, and figure out how to be the best—albeit still flawed—versions of themselves. The men are similarly flawed and human. While the story comes down clearly on the side of all-encompassing love, Mallery has struck a careful balance: There is just enough sex to be spicy, just enough swearing to be naughty, and just enough heartbreak to avoid being cloying.

A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-778-38608-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022


The writing is inspired, the imaginative power near mystic, but some will wish for more plot.

This historical fever dream of a novel follows the flight of a servant girl through the Colonial American wilderness, red in tooth and claw.

As in her last novel, Matrix (2021), Groff’s imaginative journey into a distant time and place is powered by a thrumming engine of language and rhythm. “She had chosen to flee, and in so choosing, she had left behind her everything she had, her roof, her home, her country, her language, the only family she had ever known, the child Bess, who had been born into her care when she was herself a small child of four years or so, her innocence, her understanding of who she was, her dreams of who she might one day be if only she could survive this starving time." Those onrushing sentences will follow the girl, “sixteen or seventeen or perhaps eighteen years of age,” through the wilderness surrounding the desperate colony, driven by famine and plague into barbarism, through the territory of “the powhatan and pamunkey” to what she hopes will be “the settlements of frenchmen, canada,” a place she once saw pointed out on a map. The focus is on the terrors of survival, the exigencies of starvation, the challenges of locomotion, the miseries of a body wounded, infected, and pushed beyond its limit. What plot there is centers on learning the reason for her flight and how it will end, but the book must be read primarily for its sentences and the light it shines on the place of humans in the order of the world. Whether she is eating baby birds and stealing the fluff from the mother’s nest to line her boots, having a little tea party with her meager trove of possessions, temporarily living inside a tree trunk that comes with a pantry full of grubs (spiders prove less tasty), or finally coming to rest in a way neither she nor we can foresee, immersion in the girl’s experience provides a virtual vacation from civilization that readers may find deeply satisfying.

The writing is inspired, the imaginative power near mystic, but some will wish for more plot.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780593418390

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023

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