Well, this is lovely: “Ricocheting from the war-torn twentieth century to the reality-show-rich present day, the stories in this impressive collection feature characters buffeted by fate—or is it mere happenstance? The death of a circus elephant shapes generations of a small town; a passing remark ruins a plotted-out life. Our sense of history is probed, too, not without humor—Bach appears in a Manhattan living room one day, a spot of comfort in one woman’s post-9/11 life. In a series of shorter pieces, the author relates nuggets of family history and legend, including a story about young women in Budapest who used greasepaint to transform themselves into old women, in order to be spared at least one of war’s ugly realities.” See the review here.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer said of Music for Wartime: “As an adept of the particular and specific art of short stories, Makkai is indisputable, and she provides something that every writer should aspire to, beyond form and plot and setting and character and voice: Something, something that matters, to talk about.” Read the full review here.
Music for Wartime received glowing starred reviews in both Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. From the former: “Though these stories alternate in time between WWII and the present day, they all are set, as described in the story “Exposition,” within “the borders of the human heart”—a terrain that their author maps uncommonly well.” From the latter: “Makkai is a musical writer with a strong voice, and this work is reminiscent of Elizabeth McCracken’s recent collection Thunderstruck, in tone if not in content. Themes of guilt, loss, survival, and memory infuse the entire book, which is rife with sentences that will stop you in your tracks with their strangeness and profundity.” Read the full reviews here and here.
The Boston Globe gave Music for Wartime a rave on the front page of the Arts section. From the review: “A striking blend of whimsy and poignancy, elegy and ebullience… While some stories are straightforwardly realistic and others wildly fantastical, all are witty, rueful, and wise.” Read the full review here.
The Hundred-Year House has been named a best book of 2014 by BookPage, Chicago Reader, PopSugar, Chicago Book Review, Read Her Like an Open Book, and Newcity (Top 5 Novels by Chicago Authors), among others, and was on The Quivering Pen’s list of the best first lines of the year, and on Slate’s list of the 22 Best Lines of 2014. The Chicago Tribune included it on their Notable Chicago Books list, and The Huffington Post included it on this list of “7 Books to Read While Basking in a Food Coma,” which is pretty awesome but probably won’t make it onto the back of the paperback.
I had this awesome dream where the New York Times Book Review said some really nice stuff about my novel, and nobody’s bothered waking me up yet, so it’s all good. From the review: “Makkai guides her twisty, maximalist story with impressive command and a natural ear for satire. Equal parts screwball comedy, intellectual sex farce, historical drama and old-fashioned ghost story, “The Hundred-Year House” sometimes feels like the precocious love child of John Irving’s “The Hotel New Hampshire” and a rousing game of Clue.” Read more here. Please don’t pinch me.
Martha McPhee reviewed The Hundred-Year House for the San Francisco Chronicle, saying “Makkai is a juggler, handling the many plots, characters and ideas with ease and humor and… pathos. Her characters engage in mischief, allowing Makkai the chance to draw satirical portraits of university life, of nutty artists, of wealthy country-clubber industrialists and the hired help who envy them. Clever and acrobatic… a reminder that the past is alive in the present and all our lives are haunted.” Read the full review here!
“The novel’s unique structure and its vibrant characters make for active, exciting reading. Questions raised in one section are answered in others, creating a reading experience that might have you flipping back and forth through the pages. Makkai’s sense of humor creates funny moments (the artists’ drinking escapades) that offset more dismal ones (Grace’s struggle with her husband). The Hundred-Year House is a puzzle, a plunge into a world of fascinating characters, and an examination of human relationships. It is not to be missed.” Full review here.
“Makkai’s book holds all of the elements of the perfect summer yarn: eccentric artists, a mysterious death, a locked attic door and a large estate that has secrets built into its walls… Think David Lodge meets Maggie Shipstead as Makkai’s suspenseful scene building and comic timing make “The Hundred-Year House” a captivating read.” Full review here.