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Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

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Books

Ottessa Moshfegh's 'Death in Her Hands' Is Not What It Seems

A character named Magda dies, and lives, in language only in Ottessa Moshfegh's Death in Her Hands. But then again, don't all literary characters?

Books

'Hex' Drinks Deeply from the Poisoned Chalice

Whereas Rebecca Dinerstein Knight's novel demonstrates moments of emotional intensity and humor, Hex's proclivity towards toxicity is overburdening.

Books

90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.

Books

Rishi Reddi's 'Passage West' Longs for Life In-Between Worlds

In Rishi Reddi's Passage West, set amidst the lives of early South Asian immigrants to California, the state of being 'in-between' is constantly moulded by the longing to belong simultaneously to two worlds.

Books

Is 'The Unsuitable' Comedy? Horror? Or Something Else?

Molly Pohlig's debut novel, The Unsuitable, applies a different twist to a guilty conscience.

Books

Music and Mind-Bending in David Mitchell's 'Utopia Avenue'

Woven into Utopia Avenue David Mitchell stitches a subtle critique of the impacts of the pot-heavy, lysergic-immersed, and heady music's ambitions on pop culture, moral choices, and even tripping itself.

Books

Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.

Reading Pandemics

Pandemics and Trumpian Echoes in Miller’s 'Blackfish City'

When we can't turn to the federal government for the truth, sometimes we need to turn to fiction. Sam J. Miller's Blackfish City maps a pandemic in a post-United States future.

Books

Schisms and Connections in Sahar Mustafah's 'The Beauty of Your Face'

With The Beauty of Your Face, Sahar Mustafah pens an emotional and rich journey, laden with awareness and intrigue.

Reviews

Remember to Come up for Air When You Read 'They Say Sarah'

Debut They Say Sarah is a vivid impressionistic novel that churns the entire emotional spectrum.

Books

Class, Craft, and the Cost of Ambition: An Interview with 'Lake City' Author Thomas Kohnstamm

While Lake City masquerades as a social climber satire that is really something else, author Thomas Kohnstamm is an open book about his intentions in his work and his hopes for his city.

Books

'The Cold Last Swim' Plunges into Alternate Hollywood History

Junior Burke knocks James Dean's bad-boy-gone-too-soon off the iconic pedestal in his latest book, The Cold Last Swim.

Books

Mieko Kawakami's 'Breasts and Eggs' Is a Feminist Masterpiece

Fearless in its demand for accountability, transcendent in its honesty, Mieko Kawakami's Breasts and Eggs breathes life into feminist literature and throws down a gauntlet for other writers to aspire toward.

Business

J.M. Coetzee's 'The Death of Jesus'Uses Cervantes' 'Don Quixote' as Subtext

Whereas J.M. Coetzee's writing regularly utilizes parables, The Death of Jesus purposely destabilizes. It dazzles in its ability to present profound questions while challenging the reader to remain critical and question the meaning derived from any and all parables.

Books

Percival Everett's ​​​'Telephone​​​' Offers a Timely Lesson

Telephone provides a case study of a family dynamic shaken by illness, what can be controlled, and what must be accepted.

Books

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.

Books

'Miss Iceland' Is a Brilliant Novel of Sexism, Homophobia, and the Writing Life

Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir's Miss Iceland Is at once a poetic, light-hearted narrative and a sharply edged social critique that is caustic and righteous in its portrayal of the enduring nature of sexism, misogyny and homophobia.

Books

Joan Didion's Crystal-Clear Vision Only Got Better with Age

Reading the Library of America's comprehensive anthology, Joan Didion: The 1960s & 70s, is like walking out of the rain and into a time warp.

Books

Is Solipsism Art? On 'The Exhibition of Persephone Q'

Jessi Jezewska Stevens' debut novel, The Exhibition of Persephone Q, is filled with exciting ideas and quirky characters, but the book's surfeit of style can't make up for a lack of personality or perspective.

Books

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.

Books

'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.

Books

'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.

Books

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.

Books

'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.

Reviews

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.

Books

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.

Books

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.

Books

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.

Reviews

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.


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