Friday, March 10, 2017

GoodReads Review of Homegoing

3.5/5 stars
The writing, imagery, and the characters are top-notch in this one. The challenge lies in the design: each chapter beginning anew with the another character from the family tree given at the beginning of the book. It is an interesting premise, but ultimately one that seems artificial in a way. Also, covering hundreds of years and thousands of miles in barely 300 pages forces Gyasi to just give a nod to each character and situation before moving on. Perhaps if it were marketed as a collection of interrelated short stories, it would feel better.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

NetGalley Review of Pachinko

An excellent work of historical fiction that begins in Korea in 1910 and follows four generations to Japan in 1989. The view of an immigrant family's struggles with identity and cultural acceptance seems especially poignant for a reader in the USA of 2017. 4/5 stars

NetGalley Review of Remains of Life

For an American reader, Remains of Life is reminiscent of Faulkner and Joyce as well as the postmodern metafiction writers of the 1960s and 70s. The cultural commentary can be difficult to find due to the artistic choices; it is unclear if this is an effect of the cultural divide or the translation.  Regardless, the English version effectively  conveys  the complexity of the social situation at hand and skillful blends cerebral stream-of-consciousness contemplation with gritty, real-time characters and episodes.

Popular fiction readers should be prepared for the experimental nature of the text.  I can see it appealing to a small demographic of academics. 3/5 stars

NetGalley Review of An Ishmael of Syria

The book shows the angst and brutality of the political situation in Syria, specifically for innocent civilians. It is difficult for a Westerner to follow the many characters and references, and the tone of the book swings wildly between raw, graphic, disturbing imagery and prose that is highly cerebral and academic. Thematically, the concept makes sense, but in execution, it is difficult to read and comprehend. 2/5 stars.