History of Wolves

Emily Fridlund

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

Attracted to four-year-old Paul’s mother Patra, Linda is nevertheless suspicious of his father, Leo, and rightly so. Canny though in some senses she may be, Linda – unfamiliar with intimacy – can’t penetrate the mystery of this marriage. When she senses something awry, she is powerless to intervene [Read more...] in Reviews

The Visiting Privilege

Joy Williams

*A 2016 Notable Book

Reviewed by Alison Burns

These frank, surreal tales unroll before us like a kind of intimate newsreel, taking us right inside the daily lives of so-called ‘ordinary people’ to reveal shocking degrees of loneliness. In Williamsworld, everyone is alone. The young are atomized, ruthless; the adults are stranded, as if in a limitless penitentiary where small personal aims and activities tide them over through what many perceive as a purposeless void [Read more...] in Reviews

The Story of a Brief Marriage

Anuk Arudpragasam

*A 2016 Notable Book

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

Arudpragasam’s small miracle of a debut spans a mere twenty-four hours in unimaginable circumstances and yet encompasses an extensive meditation on life and living. Opening with an almost unendurable scene at a clinic where amputations are done without anesthetic or proper instruments, it traces the world of a young man, Dinesh, a survivor whose mother was just one among numberless corpses left behind on a terrible flight from home to this current way station [Read more...] in Reviews

Behold the Dreamers

Imbolo Mbue

*A 2016 Notable Book

Reviewed by Elsbeth Lindner

As the shadow of the coming crisis intensifies, so other problems develop for Neni and Jende. The birth of their second child Timba compounds their financial difficulties while their individual and joint relationships with the Clarks become ever more tangled. Yet Mbue – a Cameroonian herself –notably inclines away from the predictable [Read more...] in Revews

A Footman for the Peacock

Rachel Ferguson

*A 2016 Notable Book

Reviewed by Lesley Glaister

The characters are not rounded in the conventional sense but they are all vividly individual and quaintly foibled. Though the narrator’s attitude towards them all is almost consistently detached, or verging on spiteful, I found myself ultimately very moved. If a measure of good fiction is that it takes one to a new place and sends one back changed by the experience, then this is good fiction, even if it breaks every ‘rule’ I know [Read more...] in Reviews

Caught in the Revolution

Helen Rappaport

*A 2016 Notable Book

Reviewed by Jessica Mann

It was on February 23rd, 1917 – International Women’s Day – that the working women of Petrograd, about 90,000 of them by the afternoon, downed tools and joined together to march in protest against bread shortages. The next day huge crowds gathered and marched, on the 25th a general strike was in operation, by 27th the army had begun to mutiny. Rappaport allows a chapter a day for this part of the story. It is exciting even though readers know the outcome, and sad, because they do [Read more...] in Reviews

Sandlands

Rosy Thornton

*A 2016 Notable Book

Reviewed by Alison Burns

Thornton’s canvas here may be a small one (the environs of one small parish, in the main), but the inner worlds she reveals are various and surprising. In ‘High House’, a charlady speaks kindly of her employer, Mr Napish, who is exercised about flood precautions: he understands the land, which outsiders (‘seedypuffs’, just blowing through) always think is flat [Read more...] in Reviews