Genre: Magical Realism

Book Review: The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Posted January 10, 2017 // 1 Comment
Book Review: The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Throughout 2016, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian took the literary world by storm, eventually winning the Man Booker International Prize as well as nearly uncountable positive reviews and accolades. This novella, first published in Korean in 2007, is about the horrifying/tragic/bizarre events that happen after a woman decides to become a vegetarian. As always, it’s difficult to say when a book has been translated, but my overall impression is that the […]

Book Review: The Opposite House by Helen Oyeyemi

Posted August 14, 2015 // 0 Comments
Book Review: The Opposite House by Helen Oyeyemi

In this novel, Helen Oyeyemi presents a disquieting, dreamlike story, told from two perspectives: Maja, a Black cubana dealing with pregnancy and her heritage and her mother’s Santería; and Yemaya Saramagua, an Orisha (a minor god in both Santería and Nigeria) living in a “somewherehouse” between Cuba and Lagos. Both characters’ stories seem to have things in common, but I didn’t quite get how or why the author chose to […]

Book Review: The Last Illusion by Porochista Khakpour

Posted August 5, 2015 // 0 Comments
Book Review: The Last Illusion by Porochista Khakpour

This is the sort of book that sounds better conceptually than it works out in execution. A slightly mythical story of a boy who spent his first ten years in a birdcage and grew up to become a man just trying to be a “normal human” sound good, and that was the book I was ready to read. Yet, oddly enough, the event in Porochista Khakpour’s The Last Illusion that […]

Book Reviews: We Sinners & Minnow

Posted July 24, 2015 // 0 Comments
Book Reviews: We Sinners & Minnow

A solid, brief read, looking at a traditionalist Lutheran family and how they interact with and relate to their religion. I liked how we got almost all the family members’ points of view, but wasn’t particularly moved by this. The text is supposedly based on the author’s own upbringing, so for me I almost wanted to get an actual memoir instead of this fictionalized account—that would be more interesting, in […]

Book Review: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Posted July 10, 2015 // 3 Comments
Book Review: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

For me, Bone Gap almost feels like it’s too far removed from anything else I’ve ever experienced to properly pin down. Yet on second thought, the individual story elements are all things I’ve experienced before, and, in terms of tone/atmosphere, the book reminds me a lot of Kate Karyus Quinn’s (Don’t You) Forget About Me. What’s different, I think, is how Laura Ruby combines all these things to create a […]

Book Review: The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

Posted June 11, 2015 // 2 Comments
Book Review: The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

With graceful prose and impressive vision, Kirsty Logan’s debut novel, The Gracekeepers, combines the delicacy and magic of fairytales with the smart complexity of dystopian fiction, and the end result is a beautiful story of two young women and their fight for a home of their own in a world covered entirely by water. This novel is compelling and inventive from its opening scene—a circus act gone wrong when the […]

Book Review: She Weeps Each Time You’re Born by Quan Barry

Posted May 17, 2015 // 0 Comments
Book Review: She Weeps Each Time You’re Born by Quan Barry

Quan Barry’s She Weeps Each Time You’re Born is a poetic, magical exploration of 20th century Vietnamese history, told through the lens of one family group. This is a debut novel by a poet, and it shows. Not that the book is ever flowery or excessively descriptive—it’s more like Barry has chosen each word with careful thought, as one might when crafting a poem. Because of this, She Weeps Each […]

Book Review: Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Posted May 16, 2015 // 4 Comments
Book Review: Ruby by Cynthia Bond

I’ve thought for several weeks about what I wanted to say about Ruby. I’m generally not an emotionally engaged reader, and when I review books I rarely mention my feelings. But with this book, it’s impossible to do otherwise. Cynthia Bond’s debut is heartbreaking and destroying and brutal. It’s not a nice book, but it is one that challenges perspectives and thought processes in truly important ways. In this book, […]

Book Review: The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac by Sharma Shields

Posted April 19, 2015 // 0 Comments
Book Review: The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac by Sharma Shields

This was, overall, an odd book, though in spite of its strange premise, it was often mundane, the bizarreness so understated that it hardly seemed remarkable. However, I also think that after reading Aimee Bender, my system for measuring the weird has gotten a bit skewed. In any case, Sharma Shields’ debut, The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac, is different both in how it approaches storytelling in structure and in reality, while […]

Book Review: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Posted March 22, 2015 // 6 Comments
Book Review: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

I went into The Walls Around Us blind, needing no more than the author’s name to confirm that this was a book I was committed to reading. I have yet to dislike any novel by Nova Ren Suma, and I was quite confident that this book would carry on in that vein—it did. The dark, twisting story of innocence and betrayal that unfolds in The Walls Around Us is one […]

Book Review: First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

Posted March 5, 2015 // 0 Comments
Book Review: First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

Some sequels are just unnecessary. First Frost is one of those. Taking place 10 years after Sarah Addison Allen’s extremely well-received debut, Garden Spells (a novel that remains her most popular), this book catches readers up with the lives of the Waverley family. It’s not a bad idea, and there’s certainly the fanbase to support this novel, but I unfortunately found that this book hinged far too much upon the […]

Book Review: The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender

Posted February 20, 2015 // 0 Comments
Book Review: The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender

I love Aimee Bender’s writing. Her short stories are probably the weirdest things I’ve ever read, but they’re done so well. The Girl in the Flammable Skirt is possibly my favorite volume by Bender, full of super-short short stories that are funny and strange and grotesquely sexual and excellent all at once. I’m not sure any other author has managed to achieve such a different style so well; I think […]