Longform Book Reviews – Fiction

Falling Out of Time

Sometimes a book tears open the fabric of being and forces the reader to question the meaning of existence. A masterpiece of existentialist inquiry, Falling Out of Time by the eminent Israeli author David Grossman is such a book.

Continue Reading Falling Out of Time

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

On the face of it, Muriel Barbery’s international bestseller, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, is a sentimental tale about a fifty-four-year-old woman who pretends to be illiterate and inept but is actually intellectually gifted and a covert autodidact.  As the concierge at number 7 rue de Grenelle, an elite Parisian hotel with a courtyard and a garden,…

Continue Reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Claire of the Sea Light

The setting of Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat is a fishermen’s town on the coast of the Caribbean Sea, twenty miles from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Here, in the fictional town of Ville Rose, the poor live in clapboard shacks on the edge of the sea, while the rich—a very small percentage of the…

Continue Reading Claire of the Sea Light

The Tiger’s Wife

The Tiger’s Wife, the acclaimed novel by Téa Obreht, is not for the fainthearted. The Yugoslav Wars of the early to mid-1990s hover in the background, threatening to overtake the narrative. Ethnic cleansing, genocide, mass graves, war crimes—these are the legacies of those wars. However, Obreht does not historicize them, nor does she exploit this horrific…

Continue Reading The Tiger’s Wife

White Dancing Elephants

White Dancing Elephants was a finalist for the 2019 PEN America Literary Awards. Women take center stage in Chaya Bhuvaneswar’s debut short story collection, White Dancing Elephants. As characters, these women find themselves in unyielding, sometimes violent circumstances, as prejudicial cultural norms pervade their lives and cause indisputable suffering. Their self-regard is compromised. It is…

Continue Reading White Dancing Elephants

Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War

Matterhorn. An obelisk-shaped mountain in the Alps on the border between Switzerland and Italy rising nearly 14,700 feet. Also, a near perfect mountain to climb if you’re willing to challenge four steep faces, unpredictable weather, and dangerous cloud formations. Also, an inspiration of majestic beauty and purpose. Also meaning “meadow peak.” Matterhorn. The code name…

Continue Reading Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War

God Help the Child

The reality and impact of child abuse rests uneasily, front and center, with the interwoven themes of love and transformation. Meticulously crafted, God Help the Child is a journey of souls and hearts, a must-read book.

Continue Reading God Help the Child

Hip Set

When it comes to human behavior, there is nothing pure about it, just as there is nothing pure about what lies on an arc between good and bad or between heaven and hell. Michael Fertik’s novel Hip Set scours human behavior in all its dimensions and disguises, whether the behavior tilts toward the sacred or toward…

Continue Reading Hip Set

Unreasonable Doubts

The cast of characters in Unreasonable Doubts by Reyna Marder Gentin could have stepped out of a Shakespearean play. Consider the lovers Liana Cohen and Jakob Weiss, the counselor Rabbi Jordan Nacht, the wise colleague Deborah (Deb) Levine, the criminal defense boss Gerry Greenstein, Phyllis Cohen the mother advisor, Irv Mandel the angel, and Daniel…

Continue Reading Unreasonable Doubts

The End of Your Life Book Club

There is great value in reading a book about books, and The End of Your Life Book Club is no exception. This book is different in one respect, however. It is about Mary Anne Schwalbe, the mother of the author Will Schwalbe, and the book club is how mother and son spent time together while…

Continue Reading The End of Your Life Book Club


The mind—or body or self—is central to Amina Cain’s storytelling. This is the way it is with Creature, her collection of fourteen stories: elusive, introspective, intuitive. Stylistically, Cain absolves the beginning, middle, and end of linear narration and chooses instead a non-sequential narrative that defies the literary formalities of time and space. More mood than…

Continue Reading Creature

A Map of Betrayal

Throughout his thirty years as a CIA agent spying for the People’s Republic of China, Gary Weimin Shang, the protagonist in Ha Jin’s psychological novel A Map of Betrayal, betrays not only his adopted country, the United States; his Chinese wife Yufeng; his American wife Nellie; and his Chinese-American mistress Suzie, he also betrays, most…

Continue Reading A Map of Betrayal

The Sound of Things Falling

There is this about the novel The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vásquez: The push and pull between reason and emotion, choice and chance, life and death—a trio of diametrical pairings played against each other in the life of the narrator, Antonio Yammara.

Continue Reading The Sound of Things Falling

Last Night In Granada

“The magic power of a poem consists in it always being filled with duende.” The narrative in Chris Pellizzarri’s novella, Last Night in Granada, moves along memory corridors that intersect and divert the logic of linear time. Like a prose poem that splices time and space, the narrator Chris invests these corridors with meaning, and,…

Continue Reading Last Night In Granada