In some ways the second novel from Norwegian author Gaute Heivoll is like his remarkable debut work, Before I Burn. Both follow the course of one rural Norwegian family as they navigate an extraordinary event; both involve a narrator looking back. But where his first novel centered around one terrifying month, Heivoll’s newest work, Across the China Sea, takes the long view of an inciting incident, encompassing not just a month or a year but fifty years in the life of one family, showcasing the before, the during, and the after.
The result is a beautiful rumination on the ties that bind us as family, as well as the delicate line between sanity and madness. Read full review
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Some authors set the bar high with their debut work. Then there are authors like Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi whose first novel succeeds on such a stratospheric level it’s nearly impossible to imagine – or wait for – what she’ll write next.
Kintu is a modern classic, an epic reimagining of Ugandan history told through multiple generations of the cursed Kintu clan. The story opens with the sudden death of Kamu Kintu in 2004, a man whose new 5-CD changer and tiny television made neighbors consider him a thief. Having established the modern setting that prevails for most of the book, Makumbi then shifts gears back 1750 to lay the foundation for the Kunta curse. Read full review.
The Book of Emma Reyes is the remarkable memoir of Colombian painter and intellectual Emma Reyes, who overcame a harrowing childhood to become a successful artist who counted Frida Kahlo and Jean-Paul Sartre among her closest friends.
Reyes’ glamorous adult life in Paris would have been unimaginable to her younger self: Reyes was an illegitimate child who grew up in Bogota in a windowless room with no toilet or running water. When her mother would leave to travel she would lock Reyes and her siblings inside for days at a time with little food and one overflowing bedpan. Read full review