To the chagrin of plenty, when people ask me about Miriam Toews (and when they don't), I often say her name in the same breath as "greatest novelist writing in English today" and "the best writer on grief and loss living on this continent," superlatives that surely test my credibility and raise eyebrows, but I stand by them. So help me. It's easy for me to articulate what makes Toews so compelling: her acidic humor, her total inability to play by the rules, always one eye on the specter of death. Rivaling some of Toews's best novels (All My Puny Sorrows, Women Talking, A Complicated Kindness, to name a few), FIGHT NIGHT is the most invigorating work of art in Toews's oeuvre thus far. Come for Toews's unparalleled knack for writing sour grandmothers; stay for Swiv, the precocious child narrator who says things like this: "I don't know why saying bowel movement and stool is better than vag and piehole. It doesn't matter what words you use in life, it's not gonna prevent you from suffering."
A stunning exploration of loss and grief. 100% on my top books of 2021!
Powerful, honest, and sharp. Ford tells her story on her terms, refusing to compromise or shy away from how the absence of her incarcerated father and tense relationship with her mother defined her formative years. Her work is a gift that allows us to glimpse her fraught journey through hardship and loss towards love and self-acceptance. Simply beautiful.
If "every story is the sound of a storyteller begging to stay alive..." as Daniel says, then he and his family deserve to live forever--purely off the crackling energy of these tales and the way they will echo in your mind long after the words have been read. Part musings on truth and memory, part memoir of a young immigrant trying to find his place in midwest America, this book will captivate and resonate with a wide variety of readers.
To anyone who has ever wondered about their history, struggled to understand their family, or been a victim of bureaucracy; to the children of strong mothers, the parents of observant children, and the family members of angry adults that should know better; to lovers of poetry and folklore and far off places; to anyone (so everyone!) with flaws--you will find a kindred spirit here.
Told in sparse paragraphs but with full language, like only the best bits you underline in a book. Woodson weaves together the many stories of a multi-generational black family as, across time, everyone navigates their own relationship with identity, gentrification, parenthood, class, and that red-to-the-bone feeling that comes with love.
Trethewey comes at writing a memoir like the poet that she is. Her words will break your heart almost as much as her story does, told from a daughter's perspective of her mother suffering through domestic violence. She really shows the thin line between love and hate, passion and anger, especially in the bone-chilling recorded phone calls between her mother and ex-husband. Through her efforts to learn more about the woman she lost when she was 19, Trethewey will take your breath away.
I picked up this slender but powerful book on the last day of the year and read into the night, into the new year. Days later, I find it unfurling like a banner in my mind as 2021 lurches forward. The story of Kazu, a deceased laborer whose ghost haunts one of Tokyo's busiest train stations, is as much social commentary as it is character study with its examination of poverty, homelessness, grief, and regret. Miri deftly weaves events of Kazu's life that led to his homelessness with Japanese history with conversations from station passengers who float into view and then bob away, unaware, on their own streams. Miri's writing feels almost painterly at times: repetition feels like brushwork, vivid colors flash behind the lids, texture shapes the geography of loss. A beautiful ache of a book.
This book is quietly nuanced in its message and slow to unfold, but never boring. It's a mystery grown from a family drama, which builds on a dust bowl history lesson, all surrounding the Lorax's stump--with drops of irrepressible hope leaking between each regretful and foreboding ring. Christie skillfully draws eerie parallels between generations and environmental catastrophes, but what's even more impressive is how he will simultaneously warm your heart and make it ache with each of the 4 points of view.
This novel is both the stories of twelve women and a sweeping history of the Black British experience. With poetic prose, dazzling characters, and intricate details, it is impossible not to get lost in Evaristo's work.
It is 1979, and the Islamic Revolution is at the doorstep of one family's fruit orchard in Northeastern Iran. The simplicity of family life becomes more difficult to maintain as each character's path becomes more complex by the risk of losing love, duty, traditions, and their safety. Not necessarily a light read, but a rich, lyrical story.