A unique reading experience and a complex, character-driven story.



Guevara (Lips of a Mastodon, 2015, etc.) weaves a poetic, ethereal tale of intersecting lives, cultures, and religions in mid-20th-century New York City.

Howard Schoeff is profoundly driven by instinct—some would even say visions or premonitions—but he nonetheless feels little certainty about his life. After his first love, Jessica, left him, Howard became a Catholic priest and ended up in New York City, coming from South Bend, Indiana. But he doesn’t entirely understand how his life has led him down this path, and his sense of humor and off-the-wall style of preaching set him apart. Likewise, Sunni Muslim Zeyad Nadeem Mugrabi’s life has also taken him down an unexpected path. After leaving his home, family, and job in an Iraqi shipyard, the young man stowed away on a ship, hoping to reach London or some other far-off place. After he lands in Manhattan, his jewelry-making talents earn him refuge with Raphael Antonisz, a Jewish businessman, and his socialite daughter, Chereb. These are just a few of the characters in this pastiche of souls lost and found, set in New York in the 1950s and ’60s; some characters spend their nights amid bright lights and fine drink, while others are destitute, orphaned, brutalized, or jailed, and none end their story as the same people they were when they began it. But through it all, there’s a constant thread of love and faith—what it means to have it, to lose it, to run up against those who feel it differently than you do. The story is complex and compelling, with nontraditional prose to match: “What was more preferred, and delivered, was that Chereb had the chance to communicate, and everything seemed calm after.” As in this example, the sentences often ramble, forcing the reader to take a considered approach to each line. But although the irregular sentence structure and dialogue may put some people off, it’s also part of the book’s charm. The choice of words and phrasing in this novel is seldom merely functional, and the eclectic style calls upon readers to see the meaning in fragments and empathize all the more with the people whom they describe.

A unique reading experience and a complex, character-driven story.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 371

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.


Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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