An overlong but often engrossing novel.


In Dahlberg’s (Uptown and Down, 2005) novel, a successful Wall Street trader humiliatingly loses her job and is forced to reconsider her life.

At 35, Mia Lewis is the head of equities at Atlas Capital and the only African-American female trader in a crew of 18. She has an enviable career, and after her firm safely lands on the other side of the 2008 financial crisis, her future looks bright. However, she’s at loggerheads with a new underling, Tripp Armsden, a cocksure jerk who buys a huge position in an unfamiliar company, Touchnology Systems—a recklessly risky bet made without Mia’s approval. She orders Tripp to unload it when its stock price dangerously dips, but he defies her; meanwhile, her boss, Atlas founder Peter Branco, supports Tripp for reasons that she doesn’t grasp. The antagonism between Mia and Tripp—which Dahlberg depicts with nuance—finally erupts into heated conflict when Peter inexplicably decides to promote Tripp to head of equities, making him Mia’s boss. Mia refuses to accept this and presents Peter with an ultimatum—either Tripp goes, or she does. To her anguished surprise, he chooses the latter option and fires her. To add insult to injury, her incensed reaction makes the financial news. Professionally ruined, she realizes that she’s mismanaged her personal finances so egregiously that she’ll soon deplete her meager savings. She sublets her apartment and goes to live rent-free in a friend’s cottage in upstate New York. There, she meets and falls in love with handsome wine-shop owner Oliver Bishop, but his unresolved relationship with his ex-wife complicates their potential future. Meanwhile, Mia isn’t yet done with the world of finance: She aims to sue Atlas for wrongful termination, and in the process, she uncovers troubling information about her ouster. Throughout this novel, Dahlberg intelligently captures the precarious position of a black woman in the white, testosterone-fueled world of New York high finance. She also limns with great subtlety the potentially destructive charms of unchecked careerism: Mia is shown to be so focused on professional advancement and the trappings of success that she almost completely neglects the details of her personal life—including her own finances. With notable skill, Dahlberg shows how the pursuit of elite accomplishment can trap a person in a gilded cage. However, the plot’s pace is often plodding; the author dawdles far too long on incidental details and inessential subplots, which can sometimes make for a lethargic read. Nevertheless, Dahlberg seamlessly combines two very different types of books—a romance novel and a financial thriller—and imbues the result with suspense and emotional depth. What holds the two parts together as a coherent whole is Mia’s process of self-discovery; even as she fights to restore her name and reputation, she reflects deeply on the circumstances of her life. One gets the feeling early on that even if Mia returns to Wall Street, she won’t be her former self, and this aspect gives the story additional dimension.

An overlong but often engrossing novel.

Pub Date: July 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77342-050-9

Page Count: 342

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2018

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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

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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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