“A Thousand Miles from Nowhere” by John Gregory Brown

Hurricane Katrina ruined thousands of lives in 2005, but for Henry Garrett, a 41-year-old New Orleans native and former high school English teacher, “he had already managed, before the hurricane, to lose everything.” When he leaves the city before the levees break, he doesn’t yet know that tragedy will shatter his hometown. The only disaster he knows is the life he’s escaping. “A Thousand Miles from Nowhere,” the new novel by John Gregory Brown, is a quiet examination of the mistakes Henry has made, the family curses he can’t control, and the challenges of dealing with grief and personal failings. Continue reading ““A Thousand Miles from Nowhere” by John Gregory Brown”

“A Separation” by Katie Kitamura

There’s more than one way to feel like a stranger in a foreign land. The pleasant way is to travel to a vacation spot, but a more unnerving sense of dislocation comes when one is a party to a faltering marriage. Katie Kitamura explores this theme in her new novel, A Separation, a quietly devastating story of a childless, London-based couple on the verge of divorce. Continue reading ““A Separation” by Katie Kitamura”

My Favorite Books from 2016

I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing more than 50 books this year and reading many others in my spare time. That’s a nice way to occupy one’s days, but it doesn’t leave much time for keeping one’s blog up to date. I thought I’d take a moment, however, to share with you my favorite books of the year—a hard choice, given that so many excellent works were published in 2016. These 11 books, listed alphabetically by title, are my choices for the best of the year. Links take you to my reviews. Continue reading “My Favorite Books from 2016”

My Favorite Books from 2015

The brother of the man that Meursault killed in Albert Camus’s The Stranger; a hunter who wins a contest to kill a lion that is attacking women in a small village in Mozambique; a celebrated painter whose hobby is thievery; and a computer programmer who has written an algorithm that can summon dead people: these are some of the characters from my favorite books published in 2015. Continue reading “My Favorite Books from 2015”

The Dirty Dust, by Máirtín Ó Cadhain

Among the many pleasures of being a book critic is that you receive in the mail all sorts of books you weren’t expecting. A recent novel I received is one of the most enjoyable, funniest, and most creatively profane books I have ever read: The Dirty Dust, a 1949 novel written in Irish by Máirtín Ó Cadhain. The book is now appearing in English for the first time, thanks to Yale University Press and a marvelous translation by Alan Titley. Continue reading “The Dirty Dust, by Máirtín Ó Cadhain”

The Lost Child, by Caryl Phillips

My first review for BookPage is a review of The Lost Child, the new novel by Caryl Phillips. Phillips is the author of such works as the novels Crossing the River and A Distant Shore and the essay collections A New World Order and Colour Me English. He is known for works about the African diaspora. The subject of his latest work, however, may strike some readers as a departure: a reimagining of the Emily Brontë classic Wuthering Heights. Continue reading “The Lost Child, by Caryl Phillips”

My Favorite Books from 2014

You know it’s a great year for fiction when you have no trouble coming up with titles that are worthy of mention in a best-of blog post. I needed less than two minutes to come up with the list of eight books I’ve included here. I had the pleasure of reviewing all but two of these works. Six countries of origin are represented here, and the protagonists include a scientist trying to find music in DNA, a young man in 1960’s France struggling to make sense of his country’s role during World War II, and a judge who must decide whether to let a hospital give a blood transfusion to a 17-year-old who objects on religious grounds. Continue reading “My Favorite Books from 2014”