An astute, socially relevant tale set in a world that readers will happily get lost in.

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In Matiasz’s (End Time, 1994) sci-fi novel, a private investigator scours a dystopian San Francisco for a killer.

By 2042, America has fragmented: massive earthquakes have devastated the West Coast, while riots and social chaos have created lawless regions across the country, and some territories have even seceded from the United States. Private eye Jimmy Hidalgo’s latest gig seems relatively easy: find a missing woman—a deadly OverUnity operative who’s likely in San Francisco. His client is Ajnzar, who turns out to be one of the Majjar, an alien species allied with the OverUnity civilization that governs the Sagittarius galactic arm. Jimmy is also looking into the murder of his friend Danny Delgado, although forensics can’t quite explain the condition of his small, gray corpse. The PI soon suspects that Danny’s killer and the missing human operative, whose name translates to “Anger Cat Stealth,” are the same woman. Meanwhile, another human named Becky Wiley has managed to illegally acquire three security cases, which separately contain a gem, personal documents belonging to a person named Robert Yi Lee, and a bizarre alien artifact; she does her best to steer clear of suddenly inquisitive cops and feds. More murders ensue, and Jimmy eventually crosses paths with Becky, a hunter alien, and a human with psionic ability. Matiasz presents an engaging view of a future world that brims with intriguing political and societal issues; for example, racial segregation is shown to spark migration, and openly gay Becky remembers high school days of homophobic torment. The author also relays extensive exposition in various, clever ways, including snippets of a TV show and part of a lecture about “America’s Terror War.” There’s so much worldbuilding, in fact, that it doesn’t allow much room for action, and the inevitable climax happens very late in the book. The ambience, however, is so richly textured and frightening that it’s palpable.

An astute, socially relevant tale set in a world that readers will happily get lost in.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9977054-3-0

Page Count: -

Publisher: 62 Mile Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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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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