The events that inspired Human Acts took place more than two decades ago, but still sits uncomfortably close to home. Han Kang's third translated novel holds nothing back in this fictional retelling of the 1980 Gwangju Uprising in S. Korea that lead to a massacre of hundreds of civilian protesters in an attempt to suppress civil unrest in the city, and of the aftermath in which future generations are almost blissfully unaware of the atrocities that occurred just 20 years prior.This wasn't an easy book to stomach, but an absolutely necessary read, especially given these times when history seems insistent on repeating itself.
Moving at such a deliberate, languid pace and voiced by a character easily accused of insouciance, it is all too easy to overlook the book and protagonist's incisive wit and keen social perception.
Like Don Quixote translated by Joy Williams, Batuman's debut novel is a distinct reading pleasure, startling and soothing in equal measure.
Those vague, errant anxieties which plague and paralyze us, strengthened by subjectivity's inability to aptly describe them, are painted in precise, vivid colors in Lacey's debut novel. Our heroine, floundering (literally and figuratively) through New Zealand with mostly just her perturbation to keep her company, is as mysterious and fascinating as the landscape.
A stunning debut pioneering in its accurate portrayal of a first generation Chinese immigrant family (refreshingly free of stereotypes) and the pressure of the expectations, both societal and familial, forced upon them in a contradiction of identity. Within the first page, I was drawn to Fu's lyrical writing and vibrant characters that gradually intertwined with quiet brilliance and wit.Fu explores the debacle of what life is when constricted to a suffocating outlook of self-denial - what are we willing to sacrifice and suffer though in order for a few sparing moments of authenticity and the happiness it brings? Is complacency all we can accept when faced with overwhelming fear?All in all, an essential and engrossing read from an author whose further works I will be keeping an eye out for.
Spiotta's fourth novel fits seamlessly alongside her other work. It is a tale that magnificently ghosts a moment in American history, her research and fabrication masterfully woven into a contextually rich yarn. Innocents and Others (inspired by the fascinating Exploding the Telephone) introduces readers to Jelly, the author's most enigmatic and intriguing character to date. Her presence on the page and in the relationship between the book's alternating protagonists is so acutely observed and emotionally sonorous, she haunts the reader long after the page is turned.
The LA Times succinctly says it all: "[Spiotta] writes with a breezy precision and genuine wit that put her on a short-list of brilliant North American novelists who deserve a much wider audience.”
Disillusionment is a risky theme to tackle; a character adrift can easily come across as too thorny or unsympathetic, making even a masterfully written story insufferable. Luckily, we have Marcy Dermansky.
In the sea of earnest, self-conscious, cloyingly "witty" (and ultimately forgettable) modern fiction, she and The Red Car are acerbic salvation.
Dystopian fiction that will resonate well with fans of Black Mirror, Children of Men, and Fahrenheit 451; every story held me spellbound and fully immersed in a world that I was reluctant to leave afterward.
Addressing identity and the role we play in one another's lives, The Collective is the haunting, moving and wryly drawn novel I wanted The Interestings to be. Don Lee is writing at the height of his powers in this novel, the acuity common to all of his work tempered here with the perfectly rendered melancholy of growing pains.
In this bleak dreamlike narrative, Adrià Guinart is like an anti-Quixote, wandering the countryside in search of escape from his country's perpetual war, but finding instead, like Quixote, frequent merciless beatings.
This debut collection of short fictions and narratives is so witty, raw and insightful that you'll read it again and again!