Book Reviewing

When I talk to writers about being a good literary citizen, one of the things I recommend is writing book reviews. It not only helps to keep one’s critical skills sharp–useful in evaluating your own work–but also it spreads the word about books by other writers, and that’s a good thing for the literary community. Although venues for book reviews in print are disappearing, the online book review world continues to expand, so there are lots of places to publish reviews, and there’s nothing wrong with posting reviews on your own blog if you don’t want to go to the trouble to place it elsewhere.

There is no single formula for “how to write a book review.” In graduate school, I did take a class on book reviewing, and I’ve been more or less following the process I learned there when I write reviews, but I’ve read all kinds of reviews over the years. Trust me. There are lots of ways to skin a book, and I highly recommend reading other reviews to get a sense of the variety.

The real reason I’m writing this post, though, is that I just updated the Publications page on my website and added all (or most–I may have overlooked a few) of the reviews I’ve published over the past few years. I surprised myself at how many there were (and why the heck wasn’t I updating the list all along?). Recent venues include Washington Independent Review of Books, Peace Corps Worldwide, and Best New Fiction.

If you’re interested in a [semi-]complete list of my reviews, with links where available, check out my Publications page and scroll down to Essays and Reviews.

Reading on a Rainy Day Reviews What the Zhang Boys Know

The Virtual Book Tour continues. Today we hear from Reading on a Rainy Day, which had some very nice things to say about What the Zhang Boys Know.

What the Zhang Boys Know is a wonderful short story collection, although it’s more than just a short story collection. The characters are connected enough for one to feel a sense of continuity and familiarity. The prose is very quick-paced and highly readable and I could probably have finished the book in a day, but there was a sense of comfort in reading just a story or two a day and then subconsciously pondering about them. The writing was also very beautiful, and the different voices across the stories didn’t jar my concentration but instead felt sufficiently seamless and distinct. This one is definitely one of my favorite short story collections.

Read the whole review here.

Publication Day is Here! Blog Tour Kicks Off!

It’s a big day. Today, October 1, is the official publication day of my new book, What the Zhang Boys Know.

That means the book is now widely available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, your local independent book stores, and direct from the publisher. And it will be available very soon on Kindle and Nook.

And publication day means that reviews are starting to appear on Amazon and elsewhere. Plus, for the next several weeks, I’ll be participating in a virtual book tour. You can follow along here: Virtual Book Tour for What the Zhang Boys Know.

The day started well when I received this email from a reader:

I love love love love the book. I just finished it, sad that I had run out of pages.