Improvement (Silber) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
Silber writes her new novel, Improvement, as a series of interlinked stories, a generous structural decision that both allows characters to fully inhabit their own narratives and gives space to the lives that intersect or run parallel to them.… This is a novel of richness and wisdom and huge pleasure. Silber knows, and reveals, how close we live to the abyss, but she also revels in joy, particularly the joy that comes from intimate relationships.
Kamila Shamsie - New York Times Book Review


[I]t feels vital to love Silber’s work, which has been too little loved, too little mentioned, beyond a small readership that seems to be composed mostly of other writers.… Silber’s great theme as a writer is the way in which humans are separated from their intentions, by desires, ideas, time.… She has an American voice: silvery, within arm’s length of old cadences, but also limber, thieving, marked by occasional raids on slang and jargon, at ease both high and low, funny, tenderhearted, sharp. It gives her the rare ability to reach the deepest places in the plainest ways.
Charles Finch - Washington Post


You can feel, in those words, how tenderly Silber treats her large cast of men and women, how she deals out small moments of grace even as things go terribly wrong for them. This seems like a good place to bring up Silber’s voice: unshowy and intimate, precise and colloquial, she seems almost to be confiding the novel to us, a worldly wise aunt not unlike Kiki herself. She marshals great feeling in the course of Improvement without making it seem a big deal.… An everyday masterpiece.
Newsday


The prose serenely glides over irreversible, defining moments and how differently characters deal with the curveballs life throws at them.… Improvement is a meditation on the space of time and distance and certain defining events change people and propel them to re-calibrate their priorities in life.… The prose eloquently evinces human emotions—love and heartbreak, regret and loss, guilt and redemption.… Improvement reads like fragmented character studies of a disparate group of people, intricately woven together by chance and fate. Exquisitely woven, this is a rich tapestry of human conditions.
Chicago Review of Books


In Silber’s artfully structured new novel, the stories of a multitude of characters ricochet in cunning ways, crossing generations and continents.… [An] intriguing contemporary chronicle.
BBC Culture


If your must-read this month is a love-and-loss story seasoned with single motherhood and smuggling schemes, National Book Award finalist Joan Silber's Improvement hits the sexy sweet spot from page one.
Elle


There's always room for Joan Silber's Improvement.
Vanity Fair


[R]eminiscent of [Silber's] compact story collections in novel form, with mixed results.… With so many characters, it’s a lot of ground to cover…, and some of the subplots lack the depth needed to make this a fully cohesive ensemble novel.
Publishers Weekly


[I]nterconnected stories, in which the connections are not always initially apparent.… The subtle ripple effects of individual choices and actions are eloquently portrayed through Silber's penetrating eye in this elegant and thought-provoking novel. —Lauren Gilbert, Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY
Library Journal


Silber weaves together character studies that examine love, money … and the ripple effects of choices made. Silber’s decision to write events of great magnitude from everyday points of view lends realism and universality to her story.
Booklist


(Starred review.) There is something so refreshing and genuine about this book, coming partly from the bumpy weave of its unpredictable story and partly from its sharply turned yet refreshingly unmannered prose. A winner.
Kirkus Reviews

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