What should you read next? Here are the top reviewed books of the week ‹ Literary Hub

Silvia Moreno-Garcias Doctor Moreau’s daughterIsaac Fitzgerald’s Dirtbag, Massachusettsand Jamil Jan Kochai The Haunting of Hajji Hotak all are among the top rated books of the week.

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Doctor Moreau's Daughter_Silvia Moreno-Garcia

1. Doctor Moreau’s daughter by Silvia Moreno Garcia
(Del Rey)

6 enthusiastic • 2 positive
Read an essay by Silvia Moreno-Garcia about bad seeds and mad scientists here

“The imagination of Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a thing of wonder, restless and romantic, fearless in the face of genre, embracing the polarities of storytelling – the smooth and the bizarre, wild passion and deep hate – with cool equanimity… the novel is immersive Readers set in the rich world of 19th-century Mexico exploring colonialism and resistance in a compellingly readable tale of a woman’s coming of age… The visceral horror of what Carlota went through, combined with Moreno-Garcia’s pace and drama, makes for a intriguing horror novel.”

– Danielle Trussoni (The New York Times)

Reward System: Stories_Jem Calder

2. reward system by Jem Calder
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

2 enthusiastic • 5 positive • 2 mixed
Read out a story reward system here

“The publication of reward system by Cambridge-born Jem Calder provides further evidence that the medium is attracting some of the most talented young novelists to work on both sides of the Irish Sea today… as timely as these stories feel, reward system stands firmly in the tradition of fictional miniaturism: Calder’s stories are all grainy portraits of micro-interactions between people in seemingly mundane settings, tapped onto six-inch LCD glass… Calder’s view of contemporary reality feels a few notches darker and more jaded than, shall we say , Flattery or Sally Rooney. So why doesn’t a single page here feel grumpy or depressing to read? Simply because Calder is a great writer, by turns funny, graceful, bitingly cynical, lyrical – and always eloquent and inventive. It can make the boredom of office life fascinating, like in search engine optimization; he can make a desolate house party invigorating, as in Better Off Alone; and his descriptions of loneliness and discontent, as in virtually all of these stories, leave the reader feeling understood – or, as his characters would say, seen… But he can also write simply and beautifully, with a keen eye for the nature and human behavior.”

– Matt Rowland Hill (The guard)

The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories Covers

3. The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories by Jamil Jan Kochai

4 enthusiastic • 1 positive
Read Jamil Jan Kochai’s essay How Final Fantasy VII Taught Me to Write here.

“Kochai, an Afghan-American writer, shapes and reshapes his material through a variety of formal techniques, including a fantasy of redemption through video games, a somberly surrealist fable of loss, a life story told through a mimicked CV, and the story of the transformation of a man into a monkey-turned-rebel leader… Like Asturias, Kochai is a master of conjuring… The cohesion of the collection lies in its thematic exploration of the complexities of contemporary Afghan experiences (both in Afghanistan and the United States) and in the Returning family narrative at its core: Many of the stories are about an Afghan family who have settled in California… Kochai is an excitingly gifted writer and this collection is a pleasure to read, filled with stories that are simultaneously funny and deeply serious, formally daring and complex are in their V understanding of the contradictory yet intersecting worlds of their characters.”

– Claire Messud (Harpers)



Dirtbag, Massachusetts: A Confessor_Isaac Fitzgerald

1. Dirtbag, Massachusetts by Isaac Fitzgerald

4 Delighted • 5 Positive
Listen to an interview with Isaac Fitzgerald here

“…introspective yet entertaining… The writing is heartbreaking in its simple and straightforward description of the world in which he was trapped… a memoir composed of essays, some of which were first published (in slightly different form) nearly 10 years ago . Perhaps for this reason, the book’s most harrowing scenes come after 200 pages, while Fitzgerald’s introductory essays about his childhood only skim the surface of what he went through. Vital information is scattered throughout, and the book’s randomness somewhat dilutes our understanding of the emotional turmoil of growing Isaac as well as the self-destructive tendencies of his 20s… Aside from that, this essayistic approach gives Fitzgerald the freedom to tell long stories, unhindered by the demands of chronology… How every story in Dirtbag, Massachusetts, It’s worth pondering and reflecting on, even if, like life, it’s messy and out of order at times.”

– Stuart Miller (The Boston Globe)

The Sewing Girl's Tale: A Story of Crimes and Consequences in Revolutionary America_John Wood Sweet

2. The Sewing Girl’s Tale: A Tale of Crime and Aftermath in Revolutionary America by John Wood Swift
(Henry Holt & Company)

3 enthusiastic • 3 positive
Read an excerpt The story of the sewing girl here

“… [an] excellent and compelling work of social and cultural history… the book also provides an opportunity, away from the heated politics of abortion regulation, to reflect on the power we now give to judicial authorities, their views on fundamental issues – such as what it means for a man , sexually abusing women – are so different from what we think or want to think we think now… A second coda is emblematic of the joys to be found in this book, despite its somber subject matter.”

–Tali Farhadian Weinstein (New York Times book review)

Shadowlands: A Journey Through Britain's Lost Cities and Vanished Villages_Matthew Green

3. Shadowlands: A journey through Britain’s lost cities and vanished villages by Matthew Green
(WW Norton & Company)

1 enthusiastic • 6 positive

“Green’s haunting travelogue of Britain’s disappearing places is both an examination of the historical forces that led to their abandonment and a meditation on the presence of absence in physical and emotional landscapes…In each case, Green evokes the profound loss felt by the Perceived as a livelihood by the displaced, traditions and cultures disappeared along with the communities that supported them…Through these parts of British history, Green has weaved a moving exploration of transience, memory and the hypnotic allure of the past.”

—Sara Shreve (library journal)

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