Evocative stories about the way national issues impact even the most personal aspects of life.


Themes of fear, desire, and national camaraderie flow through Ukrainian author and philosopher Zabuzhko’s (The Museum of Abandoned Secrets, 2012, etc.) eight fiery tales.

Zabuzhko has been recognized internationally for her irreverent voice, and, even within the first few pages of this collection, one can see why. Zabuzhko does not mince words. She takes up space—drawing a sentence out to half a page and a paragraph out to three—and allows her mostly female protagonists to do the same. They follow their tangents, express judgments, and indulge in fantasies. In “Girls,” for example, a woman named Darka reflects on her days as a schoolgirl and her first sexual relationship, with her classmate Effie: “Now, from the vantage point of this dull bare plateau that is called experience, Darka could consider something else: namely that Effie with her innate vulnerability, her innate fragility—she was like a package, its contents cushioned in layers of paper, stamped Fragile on all sides in runny ink and sent on its way, yet without an address—this perfidious, secret, gracious, spoiled, truly vicious and irresistibly seductive inward aflame Effie-Fawn, simply had to find, at an early age, her own way of protecting herself.” On the one hand, this style, overfilled with em dashes and run-on sentences, can come at the price of worldbuilding; without much variety in sentence structure, settling in to each story and adjusting to its pace often feels difficult. On the other hand, if the reader puts in the work, this same whirlwind style produces female characters with fascinating internal lives and emotional crescendos that land. Zabuzhko’s characters struggle with domestic issues like navigating sibling rivalry or accepting a child’s sudden need for independence, each problem made thornier by the omnipresence of gender expectations, the terror of the KGB, or the passion of the Orange Revolution. The final story, “No Entry to the Performance Hall After the Third Bell,” offers a particularly intimate look at the way not only a current war, but the history of war, affects personal relationships. How does a mother protect her daughter from pain and trauma? Which secrets must she hold close and which, in her silence, drive a wedge between her and her daughter?

Evocative stories about the way national issues impact even the most personal aspects of life.

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1942-2

Page Count: 252

Publisher: AmazonCrossing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Relentlessly suspenseful and unexpectedly timely: just the thing for Dick Cheney’s bedside reading wherever he’s keeping...


From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 6

When the newly elected Vice President’s life is threatened, the Secret Service runs to nomadic soldier-of-fortune Jack Reacher (Echo Burning, 2001, etc.) in this razor-sharp update of The Day of the Jackal and In the Line of Fire that’s begging to be filmed.

Why Reacher? Because M.E. Froelich, head of the VP’s protection team, was once a colleague and lover of his late brother Joe, who’d impressed her with tales of Jack’s derring-do as an Army MP. Now Froelich and her Brooks Brothers–tailored boss Stuyvesant have been receiving a series of anonymous messages threatening the life of North Dakota Senator/Vice President–elect Brook Armstrong. Since the threats may be coming from within the Secret Service’s own ranks—if they aren’t, it’s hard to see how they’ve been getting delivered—they can’t afford an internal investigation. Hence the call to Reacher, who wastes no time in hooking up with his old friend Frances Neagley, another Army vet turned private eye, first to see whether he can figure out a way to assassinate Armstrong, then to head off whoever else is trying. It’s Reacher’s matter-of-fact gift to think of everything, from the most likely position a sniper would assume at Armstrong’s Thanksgiving visit to a homeless shelter to the telltale punctuation of one of the threats, and to pluck helpers from the tiny cast who can fill the remaining gaps because they aren’t idiots or stooges. And it’s Child’s gift to keep tightening the screws, even when nothing’s happening except the arrival of a series of unsigned letters, and to convey a sense of the blank impossibility of guarding any public figure from danger day after highly exposed day, and the dedication and heroism of the agents who take on this daunting job.

Relentlessly suspenseful and unexpectedly timely: just the thing for Dick Cheney’s bedside reading wherever he’s keeping himself these days.

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14861-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Absolutely enthralling. Read it.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


A young Irish couple gets together, splits up, gets together, splits up—sorry, can't tell you how it ends!

Irish writer Rooney has made a trans-Atlantic splash since publishing her first novel, Conversations With Friends, in 2017. Her second has already won the Costa Novel Award, among other honors, since it was published in Ireland and Britain last year. In outline it's a simple story, but Rooney tells it with bravura intelligence, wit, and delicacy. Connell Waldron and Marianne Sheridan are classmates in the small Irish town of Carricklea, where his mother works for her family as a cleaner. It's 2011, after the financial crisis, which hovers around the edges of the book like a ghost. Connell is popular in school, good at soccer, and nice; Marianne is strange and friendless. They're the smartest kids in their class, and they forge an intimacy when Connell picks his mother up from Marianne's house. Soon they're having sex, but Connell doesn't want anyone to know and Marianne doesn't mind; either she really doesn't care, or it's all she thinks she deserves. Or both. Though one time when she's forced into a social situation with some of their classmates, she briefly fantasizes about what would happen if she revealed their connection: "How much terrifying and bewildering status would accrue to her in this one moment, how destabilising it would be, how destructive." When they both move to Dublin for Trinity College, their positions are swapped: Marianne now seems electric and in-demand while Connell feels adrift in this unfamiliar environment. Rooney's genius lies in her ability to track her characters' subtle shifts in power, both within themselves and in relation to each other, and the ways they do and don't know each other; they both feel most like themselves when they're together, but they still have disastrous failures of communication. "Sorry about last night," Marianne says to Connell in February 2012. Then Rooney elaborates: "She tries to pronounce this in a way that communicates several things: apology, painful embarrassment, some additional pained embarrassment that serves to ironise and dilute the painful kind, a sense that she knows she will be forgiven or is already, a desire not to 'make a big deal.' " Then: "Forget about it, he says." Rooney precisely articulates everything that's going on below the surface; there's humor and insight here as well as the pleasure of getting to know two prickly, complicated people as they try to figure out who they are and who they want to become.

Absolutely enthralling. Read it.

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984-82217-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Hogarth/Crown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

Did you like this book?