by Louis Wiid ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 15, 2016
A sturdy, intense adventure in which humanity wins out over greed.
High finance in an era of globalization serves as the backdrop for Wiid’s debut thriller.
The evil at the center of this suspenseful tale is megalomaniac Bogdan Popov, a Russian gangster who makes himself over as a billionaire following the collapse of the Soviet Union, “in a few years becoming the richest man in Russia.” Popov doesn’t care whom he hurts from on high, including the other characters in this novel who get tangled up in his affairs. Leon Jacobs is a substance-abusing student majoring in journalism; after he’s kicked out of his university, he lands a job as a scuba instructor at an Egyptian resort where he has a brief affair with Sophia, Popov’s damaged heiress daughter. She makes an introduction that gets Leon a low-level job at her father’s firm in London, where Popov himself takes notice of him. Leon and Isabella van Graan, a South African lawyer, eventually publicize Popov’s dirty deeds, which paints a target on Leon’s back. Leon then escapes to South Africa, where he befriends Franklin Benjamin, a drug-addicted, low-level gangster whose brother was killed in a botched robbery. But trouble follows, leading to a bloody showdown between Popov’s mercenary forces and a handful of Franklin’s gangster buddies. Wiid adds a necessary air of authenticity to his novel with his detailed knowledge of international finance and his South African homeland. The only drawback is it’s not always easy to decipher his characters’ local slang from context alone (“We tried Tik a few times but didn’t like it. We stick with dagga, but only on occasion, we can stop when we want”). He crafts the redemptions of Leon, Sophia, Franklin, and Isabella, who all start as unlikable characters, so that they’re believable and natural. This, in turn, makes the fate of Popov and his mercenary enforcer, Sinovich, all the more fulfilling. The novel’s pace is slow in sections, but Wiid picks it up when it counts near the end. Overall, it’s a bumpy ride but a worthwhile journey.A sturdy, intense adventure in which humanity wins out over greed.
Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2016
Page Count: 320
Publisher: Staging Post
Review Posted Online: Aug. 23, 2016
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
National Book Award Finalist
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
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by J.D. Salinger ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 15, 1951
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
Page Count: -
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951
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