Next book

BLACK HILLS

There are rewards here, but Simmons (Drood, 2009, etc.) buries an appealing protagonist and an intriguing story under the...

At Little Big Horn, Custer’s ghost enters the body of an 11-year-old American Indian and commingles there for close to 500 pages.

Among the Lakota (Sioux), conventional wisdom has always held that Paha Sapa’s life experience was likely to be unconventional. His very name attests to this. Paha Sapa means Black Hills (South Dakota), and Lakota kids don’t often get named for real places. Add to this the eyebrow-raising fact that in an intensely militaristic society, Paha Sapa marches to a different drummer—a Lakota boy with no aspirations to warrior-hood. Not that he’s effeminate or in any way cowardly—he more than holds his own at tribal rough stuff. It’s just that, well, he seems to think a lot. And then, of course, he gets those visions. Still, his report of what he experienced as the victorious dust settled over Little Big Horn transcends the merely unconventional. Long Hair’s (Custer’s) ghost in so unorthodox a body? Sitting Bull begs to doubt it. As does Crazy Horse, and virtually all the other illustrious war chiefs. But what matters most is that Paha Sapa believes unshakably that he’s ghost-ridden because in a very real sense this shapes his destiny. Through the event-packed years that follow, pivotal conversations continue nonstop between ghost and boy—purely rancorous at the outset, more complex and ambiguous as time passes. These remarkable conversations happen in a variety of famous places: the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, where Paha Sapa’s single love affair suddenly blossoms; Mount Rushmore, where his smoldering anger against white exploitation reaches its apex; and where the visionary Indian and the spectral Indian fighter finally come to terms with each other.

There are rewards here, but Simmons (Drood, 2009, etc.) buries an appealing protagonist and an intriguing story under the crushing weight of a tome.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-316-00698-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Seven Footer Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2010

Next book

THE NIGHTINGALE

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.

In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-57722-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 37


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • National Book Award Finalist

Next book

A LITTLE LIFE

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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 37


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • National Book Award Finalist

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Categories:
Close Quickview