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Finding Harmony Amidst Discord: 'The Mountains Sing'

A Vietnamese family's song resounds over the effects of decades of tumult in Nguyen Phan Que Mai's excellent novel, The Mountains Sing.

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Racism's Trauma Reverberates Across Generations in 'Your House Will Pay'

Steph Cha's depiction of systematic racism in Your House Will Pay is compelling, attesting to the complicated social structures at play.

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'American Dirt' Now That the Dust Has Settled

Though the bluster has asserted the opposite, Jeanine Cummins' prose in American Dirt washes away the gore and grime to show the human faces that make up the migrant crisis of the Western Hemisphere.

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'Night Theater': Surgery, Corruption, and Chekhov

The well-timed choreography of Vikram Paralkar's Night Theater leads us to interrogate the unfamiliar notes of our personal harmonies.

Books

Who Can I Be Now? Picking Through Mat Osman's 'The Ruins'

Mat Osman's mystery, The Ruins, turns excess into artistry.

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Ian McEwan's Brexit Satire, 'The Cockroach', Leaves Little to the Imagination

With his latest, The Cockroach, the otherwise masterful British novelist Ian McEwan proves that too much cleverness can kill satire.

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'The Opposite of Fate' Embraces Life, However Inopportune

In The Opposite of Fate, Alison McGhee humanizes the abortion issue in a way that is unexpected and heartening.

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A Life of False Positives: Jac Jemc's 'False Bingo'

The stories in Jac Jemc's False Bingo are wound tight, propelling the reader to ambiguous and nerve-wracking ends.

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They Will Drown in Their Mothers' Tears

In They Will Drown in Their Mothers' Tears, Johannes Anyuru puts readers in a state of mind similar to that of his confused characters while offering an engaging challenge.

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A Bookish Teenager Finds Herself in Laura Taylor Namey’s 'Library of Lost Things'

In Laura Taylor Namey's Library of Lost Things, teens find security and significance in themselves as works in progress.

Books

Nell Zink Points and Jeers in 'Doxology'

It's deflating to find Nell Zink, a master of witty dialogue and pithy description, making so much space in Doxology for her inner cranky white liberal.

Books

On André Aciman's Psychodrama of Flirting with New Beaus While Brooding over Old Flames, 'Find Me'

André Aciman's long-awaited sequel to Call Me By Your Name, Find Me, isn't so much an extension of the previous book's queries about romance and sexuality as it is a work of convenient revisionism.

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Debut Novel 'Older Brother' Straddles France, Syria, and Sibling Suspicions

In Mahir Guven's debut novel, Older Brother, a young Frenchman's return to his country from war-torn Syria derails his older brother's life.

Books

Graphic Novella 'Stunt' Seeks Escape from Perpetual Entrapment

Like the title letters, the physical format of Michael DeForge's Stunt creates a kind of cage holding the main character inside rigid panels.

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On Helen McClory's Parasocial Love for Jeff Goldblum in 'The Goldblum Variations'

Metatexually dazzling yet absurdly soothing, Helen McClory's The Goldblum Variations will put a dent in your bad vibes.

Reviews

Cecelia Ahern's 'Roar' Reinforces the Normativity It Attempts to Subvert

Roar's strength is found in its depiction of empowered women, yet Ahern mistakenly centralizes a normative vision of feminism while reiterating the patriarchal control that silences her female characters' voices.

Books

Where He Goes, His Barrio Goes: An Interview with Author Gabino Iglesias

There's a lot to be angry about, these days, and Gabino Iglesias writes a lot about rage.

Books

'Famous People' Splashes in the Puddle of a Shallow Pop Star

When our protagonist is calm and reflective in Justin Kuritzkes' Famous People, there's a sense of potential intelligence beneath the shiny surface.

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McGinley's Darkly Comic 'Foggage' Explores Incest in Rural Ireland

As seen in Foggage, Patrick McGinley's fiction reveals a writer whose worth lies in his ability to balance perverse humour and human pathos on the cutting blade of his perfectly turned phrases.

Books

Short Stories: Siblings

Whatever the plot lines of a work of fiction, if it features siblings as important characters, various rich themes are mined. This issue of Short Stories brings forth the sibling-inspired works of Martha Bátiz, K Anis Ahmed, Jenny Zhang, Lidudumalingani, and Kseniya Melnik.

Books

All but One Speak up in Julia Alvarez's ¡Yo!

In a new edition to the sequel to How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, ¡Yo!, Julia Alvarez structures the story of a writer and her voice by allowing everybody but the writer herself to have a voice.

Books

A Mother Who Eats Her Young? 'A Prayer for Travelers'

Equal parts gritty and subtly heartening, tragically jarring and emotionally resonant, Ruchika Tomar's debut A Prayer for Travelers is one of the strangest and most enjoyably wrought coming-of-age stories to appear in recent years.

Books

Debut 'The Most Fun We Ever Had' Brims with Emotional Intelligence

Cleverly, Claire Lombardo's novel The Most Fun We Ever Had de-romanticizes motherhood even as it sanctifies it.

Books

'When All Else Fails', Rely Upon Your Wit

Rayyan Al-Shawaf's When All Else Fails is politically complex, and its humor is razor-sharp.

Books

'The Word for Woman Is Wilderness' Is a Call to Subvert Gender Marginalization

In her debut work of fiction, The Word for Woman Is Wilderness, Abi Andrews explores why men can reject society and turn to wilderness survival but women are dissuaded from doing so.

Reviews

Ann Beattie's Latest, 'A Wonderful Stroke of Luck' Leaves This Reader Feeling Hapless

Disaffected prep school youth, seemingly from another era, stumble through the immediate wake of a post-9/11 America in Ann Beattie's A Wonderful Stroke of Luck.

Books

'Article 353' Explores Who Might Mete Out Justice When the Law Fails

Article 353 is Tanguy Viel's politically charged, darkly atmospheric, and cathartic indictment of neoliberal capitalism.

Books

On John O'Hara's 'Appointment in Samarra', 'Butterfield 8', 'Hope of Heaven', and 'Pal Joey'

Party girls, cads, and hopeless dreamers from a distant but eternally familiar past -- John O'Hara was a writer who deserved his place in the bleacher section of Great American Writers.

Books

Maylis de Kerangal's 'The Cook' Is a Classic Case of Style Over Substance

There is a lot of enjoyable sleight of hand in de Kerangal's The Cook, but ultimately the author fails to engage with the questions it raises.

Books

Esi Edugyan's 'Washington Black' Fails to Problematize Critical Race Issues

In her latest revisionist history, Washington Black, Esi Edugyan points toward colonial theory without critically addressing affirmations of white power.

Books

Approach 'John Updike: Novels 1959-1965' with Indulgence, Patience, and Caution

The Library of America's new edition of John Updike's first four novels will engage -- and challenge -- contemporary readers.

Books

Power, Sex and Love in Sally Rooney's 'Normal People'

The Irish novelist Sally Rooney centers her drama, Normal People, around the desperations of youth under late-capitalism, but the novel's psychological excavations, nuanced and piercing, owe just as much to the influence of Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf.

Books

Small Books for Big Brains: Red Circle Minis' Pocket-sized Japanese Fiction

Why must I tote around a book the size of a '90s-era laptop computer, carried in a bag slung over aching shoulders and twisted back, while my friends in Japan can enjoy the same book slipped near weightlessly into their pants pocket?

Books

'The World Is a Narrow Bridge' Is a Metaphysical Pilgrimage for Our Time

If Pratchett and Gaiman's Good Omens is an artifact of '90s apocalypse hullabaloo notable for its wry wit, petty divine figures, and surrealistic flourishes, then The World Is a Narrow Bridge plays a similar role in our angst-ridden, oversaturated media landscape/world of 2016 and beyond.

Books

Can't Stop, Won't Stop: The Maximalist Thrills of 'Black Leopard, Red Wolf'

The mythical Africa of Marlon James' bloody new surrealist fantasy epic, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, terrifies as much as it bewitches.

Books

Joseph Scapellato's 'The Made-Up Man' Brings Forth 21st Century Absurdism

In rendering his most avant-garde characters as members of a kind of self-help conspiracy in The Made-Up Man, Joseph Scapellato offers not an update but a revision of absurdism, and as such, many social phenomena ripe for satire get off easy.

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