Critical Notes

Roundup: Cesar Aira, Laurent Binet, Toni Morrison, and More

By Mark Athitakis

What distinguishes a book review in a newspaper or magazine from a user review on Amazon? Researchers at the Harvard Business School are studying the matter. Among the findings: “Expert ratings are correlated with Amazon ratings, suggesting that experts and consumers tend to agree in aggregate about the quality of a book. However, there are systematic differences between these sets of reviews.”

Marcela Valdes discusses the works of Argentine novelist Cesar Aira, whose most recent book in English is Varamo, at the Nation.

Adam Kirsch reviews Laurent Binet’s novel HHhH for Tablet.

Michael O’Donnell reviews Robert Caro’s latest volume in his biography of Lyndon Johnson, The Passage of Power, for the Barnes & Noble Review.

Colette Bancroft reviews John Irving’s novel In One Person and Toni Morrison’s novel Home for the Tampa Bay Times.

Rayyan Al-Shawaf reviews Herta Muller’s novel The Hunger Angel  for the Boston Globe.

Gerald Bartell reviews S.G. Browne’s Lucky Bastard for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Julia M. Klein reviews Scott Martelle's Detroit: A Biography  for the Los Angeles Times.

Joseph Peschel reviews Wiley Cash’s novel A Land More Kind Than Home for the Boston Globe.

Laura Miller reviews an iPad-enhanced edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for Salon.

Heller McAlpin reviews NBCC finalist Alison Bechdel’s memoir Are You My Mother? for

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