The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Five stars, read in July 2016. This is a book about a Communist spy during the Vietnam War. That premise was intriguing enough for me to pick it up, but while it continued to be an engaging plot throughout the book, for me the plot became secondary to the smart, insightful narrative voice. We never learn the narrator’s…

Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson

Three stars, read in December 2015. I wish I had read this book ten years ago, or even five, because I know it would have meant much more to me back then. So many beautiful philosophical thoughts are expressed by the book’s narrator, especially toward the beginning, and I was enthralled for the first several…

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz

Four stars, read June/July 2014. This was good. Really good. Be prepared for difficult descriptions of violence under the Trujillo dictatorship, and also for some Spanish phrases that aren’t translated. (If I’d been reading the hard copy I would have looked them up, but I couldn’t because I was listening in my car, which drove…