Fiction & Literature Book Reviews

A ROOM by Youval Shimoni
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 12, 2016

"A literary monument or a chore? Shimoni's heavily experimental book has been likened to J.R. Gaddis' The Recognitions and Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, but it lacks their depth and humanity and shares with them mostly only their length."
Interlocking tales of art, power, and the sometimes very odd behavior of creators. Read full book review >
THE REVOLVING DOOR OF LIFE by Alexander McCall Smith
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"As usual, it's hard to tell from moment to moment which disturbances in Smith's universe (Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers, 2015, etc.) will pass after a momentary frisson and which will lead to serious ethical dilemmas. A bit like life, when you think about it."
More comings and goings at 44 Scotland St. and in its charming Edinburgh environs. Read full book review >

Transformed: San Francisco by Suzanne Falter
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"An amusing, sexually inclusive novel about joining forces to save a metropolis.
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Falter (How Much Joy Can You Stand?, 2014, etc.) and Harvey introduce an unlikely couple of crime fighters in this San Francisco-based thriller.Read full book review >
THE FUGITIVES by Christopher Sorrentino
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"Thoughtful but full of action—and a pleasing entertainment, too."
Things are never as they seem: not among the well-heeled of Manhattan and certainly not among the leave-me-alone downtrodden of rural Michigan. Read full book review >
MURDER ON A SUMMER'S DAY by Frances Brody
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"The latest retro tale from Brody (A Woman Unknown, 2015, etc.) is based on snippets of real-life characters, so one of her best mysteries gains further depth from its historical context."
The glamour of the Raj comes to rural Yorkshire. Read full book review >

SHOOT by Loren D. Estleman
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"Valentino's most relaxed and accomplished appearance to date, one whose tone of sunset valediction perfectly suits what sounds uncomfortably (say it ain't so!) like Estleman's farewell to the two genres he's been masterfully associated with for 30 years."
Estleman combines his two greatest loves, sleuthing and Westerns, in film-preservation detective Valentino's fourth appearance. Read full book review >
HOSTILE WITNESS by Leigh Adams
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"Kate's personal troubles are as poignant as her crime-solving skills are far-fetched."
A detail-oriented computer-security investigator put on unpaid leave turns the tables to investigate her former employer. Read full book review >
SUDDEN DEATH by Álvaro Enrigue
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"An innovative if knotty study of geopolitics in the Age of Discovery."
A tennis match between a poet and a painter serves as an extended metaphor on the messy clash between colonialism and art. Read full book review >
INTO OBLIVION by Arnaldur Indridason
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"Indridason's quiet authority and moody prose are beautifully at play in Erlendur's 11th case (Reykjavik Nights, 2015, etc.), another pitch-perfect procedural from a master."
An unidentified body found in a lagoon triggers dark memories for a veteran detective. Read full book review >
SQUARE WAVE by Mark de Silva
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"A novel of ideas that would've benefited from more emphasis on the novel and less on the ideas."
An intellectual who earns his living as a "watchman" in a rapidly deteriorating America investigates a brutal assault while also researching his ancestors' imperial exploits in 17th-century Sri Lanka. Read full book review >
SHYLOCK IS MY NAME by Howard Jacobson
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"The book is also full of the facile asides and riffs for which Jacobson has been praised and spanked—comic patter that pales amid the fine, thoughtful talk when his two heroes hold forth in this uneven effort."
A novelization of The Merchant of Venice set in contemporary England touches on foreskins, art collectors, athletes, and troublesome daughters.Read full book review >
WRECK AND ORDER by Hannah Tennant-Moore
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"Often unsettling, sometimes funny, always meticulously observed; a quietly intoxicating novel that resists easy answers."
Tennant-Moore's sharp debut follows a defiantly self-destructive young woman—powerfully intelligent and profoundly lost—as she grapples with identity, spirituality, and purpose. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Michael Eric Dyson
February 2, 2016

In Michael Eric Dyson’s rich and nuanced book new book, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, Dyson writes with passion and understanding about Barack Obama’s “sad and disappointing” performance regarding race and black concerns in his two terms in office. While race has defined his tenure, Obama has been “reluctant to take charge” and speak out candidly about the nation’s racial woes, determined to remain “not a black leader but a leader who is black.” Dyson cogently examines Obama’s speeches and statements on race, from his first presidential campaign through recent events—e.g., the Ferguson riots and the eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston—noting that the president is careful not to raise the ire of whites and often chastises blacks for their moral failings. At his best, he spoke with “special urgency for black Americans” during the Ferguson crisis and was “at his blackest,” breaking free of constraints, in his “Amazing Grace” Charleston eulogy. Dyson writes here as a realistic, sometimes-angry supporter of the president. View video >