BY NICO VREELAND
[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers.]
Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie. Reviewed by Genevieve Valentine at NPR.
This review came with a couple of warning signs: it’s written by an author, and I firmly believe authors overpraise books, intentionally or not; and I don’t generally think of NPR as a discerning judge of science fiction. But the description of the book hooked me enough that I already bought it. Valentine calls it “assured, gripping and stylish” and “a skillfully composed space opera.” The novel, Leckie’s debut, sounds like a revenge story that encompasses generations of space history and a variety of perspectives. And it sounds pretty damn good.
Someone, by Alice McDermott. Reviewed by Janet Maslin at the New York Times.
Maslin calls Janet Maslin’s new novel “quietly exquisite,” which sounds suspiciously like the nonspecific fluff of flap copy. But the way Maslin describes her prose makes it sound like a phenomenal book.
David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell. Reviewed by Christopher F. Chabris at the Wall Street Journal.
I’m not a huge Gladwell fan, but I at least thought he was a good and rigorous science writer. Evidently not. Chabris picks apart the thesis of this latest book (as with most bad ideas, it shrivels when exposed to air). This book has evidently produced a bit of a controversy, but it boils down to this: nobody with any understanding of the science behind his writing takes Gladwell seriously. The question then is whether he’s worth reading. I’d say no.
In brief: Mary Oliver’s new collection is inspired by her dogs. … Reading fiction makes you a better person. … The NYT highlights a new translation of a German thriller. … Oddsmakers favor Haruki Murakami to win the Nobel. … David Mitchell writes about his translation of an autistic child’s memoir, in this excerpt from his introduction to it.