A motley collection of superb writing.




Essays, stories, and poems about power, from the personal to the political and back again.

This anthology covers a lot of ground—geographically, temporally, and emotionally. It begins in the 1970s, with editor Freeman reminiscing about his childhood, and ranges from Julia Alvarez’s defiant rewriting of Homer to Eka Kurniawan’s disheartening tale about an abused Indonesian monkey who, despite the cruelty of her master, still dreams of becoming a human being. Plus there’s a stop in France, where enfant terrible Édouard Louis blames “Macron, El Khomri, Hollande, Hirsch, Sarkozy, Bertrand, [and] Chirac” for his father’s wretched health (“The history of your life is the history of these people who have lined up to cut you down”), while in Canada, Margaret Atwood reports on a global outbreak of female lycanthropy: “Look at their red-rimmed paws! / Look at their gnashing eyeballs!…Hairy all over, this belle dame, / and it’s not a sweater.” So what if Freeman hasn’t pieced together a coherent anthology? With a word as famously amorphous as “power” for his theme, how could he? (In his introduction he writes that “Everything that was, I discovered, was enacted by power.” That doesn’t exactly narrow it down.) But Freeman assembles such a talented roster that it doesn’t ultimately matter; each contribution is good enough to keep the reader interested in what’s coming next. This is true right up to the last, and best, entry: a short story by the Japanese novelist Kanako Nishi. It is a master class on the subtle and shifting power dynamics between genders and generations.

A motley collection of superb writing.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2820-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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