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From Connie Willis satire that doesn’t make me laugh(0)

August 10, 2017

Bellwether, by Connie Willis @@ (2 out of 5) I’m a big fan of satire. For instance, I love Christopher Buckley‘s books. Some of them make me laugh almost nonstop. But there’s nothing worse than a satirical tale that. Just. Isn’t. Funny. Unfortunately, that’s what I found in Bellwether by Connie Willis. Apparently, Willis wrote… Read More ›

Sudden wealth, arranged marriages, and class envy in India today

The Windfall: A Novel, by Diksha Basu @@@ (3 out of 5) In The Windfall, the debut novel from Indian writer and actress¬†Diksha Basu, a struggling middle-aged, middle-class Delhi family strikes it rich and moves across town to a wealthy neighborhood in the suburb of Gurgaon. Anil Jha had strained for years to build an… Read More ›

A novel about Middle Eastern refugees that ignores the challenges refugees face

Exit West: A Novel, by Mohsin Hamid @@ (2 out of 5) Most literary critics, and the people who hand out the Booker Prize, tend to be a reliable source of books I won’t like. So I should have been paying more attention when I picked up Exit West by the award-winning British-Pakistani¬†novelist Mohsin Hamid…. Read More ›

An Indian novelist celebrates cricket

Selection Day: A Novel, by Aravind Adiga @@@ (3 out of 5) Aravind Adiga entered the literary world with a splash in 2008 when he won the Booker Prize for his debut novel, The White Tiger. Although I frequently find Booker Prize-winning books to be unreadable, I picked up The White Tiger, anyway. My interest… Read More ›

Islamic terrorism, from the inside and out

The Association of Small Bombs: A Novel, by Karan Mahajan @@@ (3 out of 5) It’s 1996. Two brothers, ten and thirteen, walk into a busy Delhi market with their twelve-year-old friend. The brothers are Hindu, the friend, Muslim. As they arrive, a terrorist bomb explodes, instantly killing the two brothers but only slightly wounding… Read More ›

A thriller about Vatican politics

Conclave: A Novel, by Robert Harris @@@@ (4 out of 5) Over the course of my life six new Popes have been installed by the Catholic Church. Robert Harris’ new thriller, Conclave, is about the next election. Set a few years in the future, when a man closely resembling Pope Francis has either retired or… Read More ›

No heroes on this frontier

A review of Heroes of the Frontier: A Novel, by Dave Eggers @@@ (3 out of 5) Dave Eggers’ latest novel, Heroes of the Frontier, was disappointing. It’s well written, of course. Eggers is a supremely talented writer, and he has won a very long list of literary awards, including a Pulitzer for Nonfiction. He… Read More ›

A satisfying thriller set in Zimbabwe

A review of The Death of Rex Nhongo: A Novel, by C. B. George @@@@ (4 out of 5) The Death of Rex Nhongo is framed as a thriller, but its primary value (at least to me) is the intimate portrait it paints of Zimbabwe today. The setting: Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare Zimbabwe, as you are… Read More ›

Why did this plane crash?

A review of Before the Fall: A Novel, by Noah Hawley @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Eleven people — eight passengers and three crew members — board a private jet on Martha’s Vineyard for the half-hour flight to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, 12 miles from midtown Manhattan. Eighteen minutes after takeoff the plane falls… Read More ›

Tragedy, on and off the reservation

A review of The Plague of Doves, by Louise Erdrich @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Just try to imagine a novel that encompasses all these elements: a lynching on an Indian reservation, a young woman’s lesbian awakening, a man’s kidnapping of his wife, a multiple murder, a collection of rare postage stamps, a dim-witted Catholic… Read More ›