VOICE OF THE EAGLE

An assiduously researched sequel to Shuler's She Who Remembers (1991), again spotlighting Kwani, an Anasazi woman of the 13th century in what is now New Mexico. Here, Kwani, ``mated'' to a Towa warrior and builder, will live out her life in the rapidly expanding ridge-top city of Cicuye. Driven from her own tribe and pregnant by an Anasazi, Kwani mates with Tolonqua, who takes her and newborn son Acoya back to his people. On the way, he slays the White Buffalo, a Spirit Being, presaging power. Then there's a difficult trek to the Towa village of Cicuye, and once there, the cropping up of enemies. But Tolonqua is chosen to build a new city on the ridge, and Kwani sees the death of her old enemy, who was mother to her son's best friend- -Chomac. Kwani will bear a daughter, Antelope, whose strength and vision equip her to take her mother's place as She Who Remembers- -the woman with the power to be trained to pass on the secrets of women to the next generation. Years pass (Pawnees and Apaches threaten but can't overcome Cicuye) and the city grows; Tolonqua dies nobly on a hunt; Acoya is chosen both to finish the city and lead the people; and Chomac, now mated to Antelope, goes with her on a journey to trade and find his father, the playful wanderer Kokopelli (also from She Who Remembers). And Kwani goes home—her old Anasazi home—to die. In spite of some altercations on the plains or in the pueblos, the Towas are a fairly pacific bunch, and conflicts are sorted out between corn grindings, gossip, lovemaking, etc. Again, Shuler manages an arcane feel to the dialogue, and the reader feels sure that every artifact and process is documented. Not as much fun as Auel's wonder-woman prehistory adventures, but a rose-tinted, respectful ``re-creation'' of The Way Things Were over New Mexico way. (Literary Guild Dual Selection for Summer)

Pub Date: July 21, 1992

ISBN: 0-688-09519-4

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1992

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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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