[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers.]

The Tiger’s Wife, by Téa Obreht. Reviewed by Liesl Shillinger (New York Times).

Here’s another much anticipated and ballyhooed debut novel from the New Yorker‘s “20 Under 40” list (last month it was Karen Russell’s Swamplandia!). Obreht uses metaphor, fable, and allegory to bridge the Balkan Wars of the early 20th century with the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. She does this without relying (as many have) on a “profusion of names that are difficult to pronounce and acts that are painful to recall.” Shillinger’s review is strong, and worth reading. She depicts Obreht’s novel as successful due to its ability to craft a deep and complex work through a blend of “matter-of-fact narration with contemporary folk tales that are as simple, enthralling and sometimes brutal as fables by Kipling or Dinesen.”


Give Me Your Heart, by Joyce Carol Oates. Reviewed by Gina McIntyre (Los Angeles Times).

I don’t think there’s any living author as prolific as Oates. Especially not one who manages to maintain a “literary” status (as opposed to say co-writing conveyor belt books a la James Patterson, Nora Roberts, etc.). The key to being sucessful while producing so much is Oates’s keen awareness of literary rules. She writes by the book, but does it well. This collection of horror/suspense stories looks to be a sucessful one because Oates focuses on a theme (dread) and not only sticks with it, but uses it to propel the fiction. Writes McIntyre:

Oates isn’t writing horror fiction, but she might as well be. Her stories pack the same kind of visceral wallop, and she employs many of its classic themes and tropes: innocence lost, social order violated, wrongs and injustice — or, in some cases, misperceived slights — leading to acts of violent retribution.

I’m going to snag this one from the library today.


A Widow’s Story, by Joyce Carol Oates. Reviewed by David Ulin (Chicago Tribune).

Case in point: here’s a memoir by Oates published just a month after the story collection I just mentioned. In this book, Oates documents her reaction to, and life following, her husband’s death. To be honest, it’s not the kind of reading that appeals to me, but I can think of quite a few readers who would be intrigued by this. If you’re one of them, check out Ulin’s review.


Moonwalking with Einstein, by Joshua Foer. Reviewed by Tess Taylor (Barnes and Noble Review).

Foer is the brother of novelist Jonathan Safran Foer (also a “20 Under 40”), as well as a former winner of the US Memory Championship. That’s pretty good cred for writing this book–part book on science, part memoir–that investigates just how human memory works. I like that Foer turns himself into the study subject for his title, and this will probably make for a nice diversion for fans of Malcolm Gladwell and company.  Seems like a cool concept, and Taylor calls its execution a “wise, witty, and fairly memorable book” (emphasis hers).


Bonus Book Trailer: Saving you a little typing this week. Here’s the first hit when you Google “shitty book trailer”

Three Shirt Deal – Video Book Trailer from the Creator of The A-Team
Tags: Three Shirt Deal – Video Book Trailer from the Creator of The A-Team