Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan, Alfred A. Knopf, 2013
Format: Short story collection
Genre: Magical realism, fantasy
What did you like about the book?: When considering this collection as a whole, one can see that Lanagan is exploring some interesting themes, and asking interesting questions about connections between people in relationships, families and communities, bodies as objects and objects as bodies, the uncanny, and more.
What didn’t you like about the book?: I’m a major fan of Lanagan’s novels and I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately, this short story collection fell flat. Though Lanagan attempts to delve into an array of rich themes in these stories, they all end up feeling like failed attempts. On their own, most of the stories do not work. Some feel unfinished, like the start of something larger. Others lack resolution and rely too much upon the reader to make meaning. While some stories are more successful than others—For example, I did enjoy “The Point of Roses” and “An Honest Day’s Work”—the majority of them disappoint.
To whom would you recommend this book? Fans of Margo Lanagan and other magical realists like Francesca Lia Block, fans of literary fiction
Who should buy this book? High school libraries, and public libraries where there are many teen fans of literary fiction. This book should be a supplemental purchase only, though.
Where would you shelve it and why? Fiction, or in a separate section of short story collections. This book could fit in adult fiction or in YA, as the story protagonists vary greatly in age, and the difficulty of the text is suited to both older teens and adult readers.
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Jessica Hilbun, Newburyport Public Library, Newburyport, MA
Date of review: 9/29/2013