A wonderfully written, provocative novel that utilizes two distinct genres to promote progressive cultural messages.

IN THE SHADOW OF BABYLON

An epoch-spanning thriller that’s part academic mystery and part historical fantasy.

This time-traversing story opens in 11,000 B.C. with a first-person tale rendered in high archaic fashion but with clear psychological self-awareness. Ayuba, a clansman shepherd from a time just outside of recorded history, relates the terrible destruction of his family and his herd. Ayuba’s story continues throughout, but it is the discovery of this man’s poem (the oldest writing in the world) that incites the events in 2004. Flashing forward 13,000 years to an Iraqi academic’s bedroom, the novel’s modern thriller-style plot begins. Dr. Elman Darshi is trying to convince his wife that Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist agents are not in fact coming for them in the night. The sudden jump in time and tone is remarkably compelling rather than jarring and gives this novel its unique literary fascination. Ancient tablets containing the Song of Ayuba lead to information that is not only threatening to Hussein’s small empire of megalomania, but to established history and cultural orthodoxy. After Darshi is eliminated for his years of research and toil, his daughter, Alex, picks up the torch and reads the translation to the world on satellite television. The song itself is yet another layer in the literary quality of the novel and works as the novel’s philosophical centerpiece. The poem is lyrical, mystical and shockingly secular—this in particular causes a great deal of controversy once the poem is rendered for the Arabic-speaking world. Ayuba’s narrative is essentially a fantastic hero story. After the dissolution of his people, he travels into the Beyond relating his experiences and the strange encounters of a world lost to history. Schwartz deftly weaves the romantic experiences of a pre-historical shepherd into an extended homily that punctuates the trials of the Middle East as the contemporary narrative plunges along in the best page-turner fashion. Not only linked well rhetorically, the prose here is something to behold and is evocative without sacrificing concision, an absolute demand of the thriller genre. Many readers will be convinced that a literary discovery of this magnitude really might change the course of contemporary politics, so confident and convincing is the vision of the novel.

A wonderfully written, provocative novel that utilizes two distinct genres to promote progressive cultural messages.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2011

ISBN: 978-1461107132

Page Count: 326

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2012

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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