THE ANSWERS is a novel of great lucidity and actuality, an unsettling book that offers no answers but still provides provocative insight into some of the most frightening ethical questions of our times.
Barba’s undeniable skill lies in crafting convincing characters that feel like friends, or like enemies, or like people you hope never to meet, whose downfalls feel dangerously possible.
[MALAY SKETCHES] overlaps in terms of intention and effect, to an extent, with Frank Swettenham’s 1895 MALAY SKETCHES. The difference is that Alfian achieves what Swettenham could only attempt: to render the lives of a particular group of people authentically and humanely.
Carr plays with the form of confessional writing, pulling the reader into personal stories of fear and death while maintaining a certain distance, purposefully working against the “I.”
One of these novellas is not like the other. The asymmetry, of course, is very much the point, and the contrast is inherently political. Together, the two parts ask, What ‘we’ can hold us?
While this elite benefaction may help to undergird the lucky artist’s work, it certainly does not offer a hell of a lot of relief to this lost listener who cannot afford their dietary staples.