The writing in Well Dressed Lies is wonderfully well done at an intelligent level and with a formal tone that fits the time, place, and circumstances of the story. The language is rich, pleasing, and in places, appropriately lyrical. World-building is superb—with the English weather, streets, countryside, and architect so well drawn as to make readers feel like they are there. Seemingly small details add realism and appeal to the novel.
As the fast-paced story unfolds in a movie-like style in a fictitious country that Kimindero calls “Mother Nyeka”, the reader is presented with an opportunity to question and smell the crudeness, controversies and dishonesties of some of the characters. For instance, Watoro mockingly refers to Kimendero as “Minister of Fairness”, a former government official who happens to have been jailed at one time for misappropriating public funds.
Harper’s novel will engage fans of generational sagas and family dramas where long-buried family histories and secrets are unearthed, and where past choices explicitly affect the present and future of others in a snowball effect. The novel excels at revealing motherhood—or parenting––truly: falling in love with a person you’ve helped to create, and, in doing so, loving yourself in ways you couldn’t imagine; knowing you will sacrifice absolutely everything for them.
Some genuine laugh-out-loud moments poke fun at the British, perhaps unintentionally. There’s a wonderful mini-plot around llamas which draws a chuckle, whilst the actual detectives in the story are bumbling but not unbelievable.
This isn’t to say that the characters in The Filthy Marauders aren’t memorable. If anything the opposite is true; Freville’s gift seems to lie in his ability to craft flesh-and-blood eccentrics with voices that are all their own. It is only too disappointing that he has more enthusiasm for their suffering than he does for their redemption.
Billy Lombardo’s novel Morning Will Come captures a family in the unrelenting grip of grief. When Audrey and Alan Taylor’s teenage daughter Isabel goes missing, they and their two younger sons Dex and Sammy must contend with what remains, with the continuous presence of her absence. Lombardo both magnifies and expands this absence through language tight and unsparing.
Despite being a novel that deals with serious issues plaguing American society, it gives the impression that one is reading a lighter text because the author uses humor so well. That’s partly because the humor embedded within the title The Eggplant Curse and the Warp Zone anchors the text. The characters the narrator seems to make fun of are never turned into buffoons, dehumanized but respected for their humanity. This allows the reader to have unwavering empathy with the central character.
Zacharias skilfully achieves a balance between Alex’s personal journey and the historical events of the 1960s and ‘70s by presenting events from Alex’s unsophisticated perspective. Alex loves Ted Neal, but it is her photography that gives her an identity and a sense of agency. As she tells her students many years later: “You are the subject of your photographs. You act upon the object.”
Secrets and lies permeate this entire story. “Mom had probably known most of his secrets just being married to him for so long, and he had slowly been filling Catherine’s ears with tidbits, I knew close to nothing.” The author of Here Lies a Father, McKenzie Cassidy, might very well been talking about the process of constructing his first novel when he reveals Ian’s state of mind as well as the main thematic elements concerning all of the lies he has heard his whole life. “The truth didn’t matter as much as the way a story made you feel…”
The Disaster Tourist, the first novel of the South Korean author Yun Ko-Eun to be translated into English, is a sharp, intricate, and too realistic story on how capitalism’s ravenousness can turn almost every person into a disposable mannequin and almost every land into waste disposal.