Octavia E. Butler, Kindred

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler My rating: 5 of 5 stars This 1979 classic novel of time travel and slavery could not be published today. Imagine it, imagine Octavia Butler temporally jumped to the present and trying to put out Kindred in the current media climate. Assume, because it's so good, that the novel even finds … Continue reading Octavia E. Butler, Kindred

Jason Lutes, Berlin

Berlin by Jason Lutes My rating: 3 of 5 stars For readers and writers of contemporary fiction, history can play the role that myth once did. Just as Sophocles's audience relished the dramatic irony created by their foreknowledge of Oedipus's fate, we can read about the everyday lives of Berliners in the Weimar Republic with … Continue reading Jason Lutes, Berlin

Giuseppe di Lampedusa, The Leopard

The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa My rating: 5 of 5 stars Guiseppe di Lampedusa's 1958 historical novel is best known for a line of dialogue that encapsulates its magnificent political cynicism: "If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change." The line is spoken by Tancredi, an impoverished … Continue reading Giuseppe di Lampedusa, The Leopard

Charles Johnson, Middle Passage

Middle Passage by Charles Johnson My rating: 4 of 5 stars Middle Passage begins with an audacious sentence, "Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I've come to learn, is women," which announces its audacious conceit: published just four years after Beloved's solemn Freudian-Faulknerian modernism arrogated slavery to the … Continue reading Charles Johnson, Middle Passage

E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime

Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow My rating: 3 of 5 stars (There is always the danger that when an author's death prompts you to try their work for the first time, you will find yourself less impressed than you'd hoped and end up having to speak ill of the recently departed. So it is here, sadly.) … Continue reading E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime

Kazuo Ishiguro, The Buried Giant

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro My rating: 5 of 5 stars Kazuo Ishiguro is one of the few living Anglophone writers I'd bet the proverbial farm on. If literature in this language is still being read in 200 years, they'll be reading him. His fiction has that quality that I've never been able to … Continue reading Kazuo Ishiguro, The Buried Giant