Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison My rating: 5 of 5 stars In her memorial remembrance of her late friend Toni Morrison, Fran Lebowitz observed that "Toni would always take into account the problems that the person you were angry at had." She was speaking of how Morrison behaved as a friend, but a great … Continue reading Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon

François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters, The Theory of the Grain of Sand

The Theory of the Grain of Sand by Benoît Peeters and François Schuiten My rating: 4 of 5 stars The Theory of the Grain of Sand (2016; originally published in 2007-2008 in France) is the 13th entry in Franco-Belgian collaborators Schuiten and Peeters's series of graphic novels, Les Cités obscures. It is the first I've read, so there is … Continue reading François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters, The Theory of the Grain of Sand

Louise Erdrich, The Plague of Doves

The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich My rating: 4 of 5 stars The Plague of Doves was acclaimed by many as Louise Erdrich's masterpiece when it was published a decade ago. It is easy to see the appeal: the novel is a collage of voices narrating a set of big scenes, from the eponymous … Continue reading Louise Erdrich, The Plague of Doves

David Treuer, The Translation of Dr. Apelles

The Translation of Dr. Apelles by David Treuer My rating: 4 of 5 stars The Translation of Dr. Apelles (2006) interleaves two stories: a semi-fantastical romance between two Indian youths apparently set in the nineteenth century, and a piece of sad semi-realism about a translator of Native American languages living a life of quiet desperation in … Continue reading David Treuer, The Translation of Dr. Apelles

Toni Morrison, Paradise

Paradise by Toni Morrison My rating: 5 of 5 stars Paradise was not well received upon its publication in 1997—influential critics like Michiko Kakutani, James Wood, and Zoë Heller disparaged it, and even Oprah's audience, instructed to read it for the talk show host's book club, demurred, prompting Oprah to call Morrison to offer the … Continue reading Toni Morrison, Paradise

N. J. Campbell, Found Audio

Found Audio by N.J. Campbell My rating: 4 of 5 stars "Who is the Biblioteca Nacional de Investigación de Buenos Aires?" I can tell you without in any way spoiling N. J. Campbell's Found Audio that this is the novel's final sentence. It is an odd question on two grounds. First, there is no such … Continue reading N. J. Campbell, Found Audio

Juan Rulfo, Pedro Páramo

Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo My rating: 5 of 5 stars It sometimes seems as if great novels—where "great" implies success at the historico-political task of summing an epoch or capturing a society in fiction—almost have to be long. You know the list: Bleak House, War and Peace, Middlemarch, The Magic Mountain, Underworld, etc. But … Continue reading Juan Rulfo, Pedro Páramo

Toni Morrison, Sula

Sula by Toni Morrison My rating: 5 of 5 stars Sula is an anarchic novel and a conservative one. Toni Morrison, because she is a sort of multicultural figurehead, passes herself off as (and tends to be received as) some kind of left-liberal; and her later fiction—notably Paradise and A Mercy, both of which tend … Continue reading Toni Morrison, Sula

Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami My rating: 3 of 5 stars Murakami is a polarizing figure; I like polarizing figures, because the lack of consensus about their merits deprives my adolescent contrarianism, which resists all consensus indiscriminately, of its fuel, and, in consequence, I have to make up my mind freely. To my … Continue reading Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle