Jane Ciabattari

Jane Ciabattari is the author of the short-story collection Stealing The Fire. Her reviews, interviews and cultural reporting have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Daily Beast, the Paris Review, the Boston Globe, The Guardian, Bookforum, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and Columbia Journalism Review, among others. She is a former president of the National Book Critics Circle.

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Book Reviews
6:03 am
Sun August 18, 2013

'The Bone Season': Could This Be The Next Harry Potter? Maybe!

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 8:51 am

Samantha Shannon is being touted as the new J. K. Rowling. She's 21, a fresh graduate of Oxford, where she was a student when she wrote The Bone Season, the first in a projected seven-novel urban fantasy series. She's got a film deal with the new London studio set up by Andy Serkis of Lord of the Rings fame, and she's been courting booksellers, book reviewers, and fantasy fans for more than a year.

It's tricky when a book arrives with such preliminary brouhaha. I've learned to scrub my mind of hype and leave it to the text. The proof is in the reading.

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Book Reviews
6:03 am
Thu April 25, 2013

'Woman Upstairs': Friendly On The Outside, Furious On The Inside

Claire Messud's cosmopolitan sensibilities infuse her fiction with a refreshing cultural fluidity. Her first novel, When the World Was Steady (1995), followed two midlife sisters in search of new beginnings, one in Bali and the other on the Isle of Skye. In her second novel, The Last Life (1999), a teenager reacting to a family crisis pondered her father's origins in Algeria and southern France, and her mother's New England roots.

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Book Reviews
6:03 am
Wed April 10, 2013

From Cincinnati To North Korea, We All Wake Up 'Lonely'

When Fiona Maazel published her first novel, Last Last Chance, in 2008, her frenetic imagination and sharply etched characters earned her a spot on the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 authors list. Her 29-year-old narrator, Lucy, was heading into her seventh stretch in rehab; Maazel filtered her addiction, grief, self-involvement and fear through a scrim of dark humor.

There's a comic overlay to her second, even more frenzied and inventive novel, Woke Up Lonely. But the tilt toward pathos is stronger.

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Book Reviews
6:03 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Tender Portraits Of Worn-Down Women In 'This Close'

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Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 1:43 pm

Jessica Francis Kane drew considerable attention for her artful historic novel, The Report, which explored the repercussions of a tragic incident in March 1943, when 173 people died while rushing into the Bethnal Green tube station for shelter during an air raid. Her portraits of wartime Londoners were psychologically acute and rich in evocative detail. She applies that same skill to her second collection, This Close, populated by 21st century Americans adrift in an increasingly complicated world.

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Book Reviews
6:02 am
Mon November 26, 2012

Short Stories To Savor On A Winter Weekend

Nishant Choksi

Originally published on Sat December 29, 2012 4:38 pm

Hortense Calisher, a virtuoso of the form, once called the short story "an apocalypse in a teacup." It's a definition that suits the remarkable stories published this year by three literary superstars, and two dazzling newcomers with voices so distinctive we're likely to be hearing from them again. These stories are intense, evocative delights to be devoured singly when you have only a sliver of time, or savored in batches, at leisure, on a winter weekend.

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