From Publishers Weekly
Barzak's accomplished novel-in-stories dwells on people dealing with life's sorrows through somewhat tenuous connections. Set in Japan, the narratives focus on protagonists from the country and travelers in search of a new life, as in Realer Than You, in which 16-year-old Elijah Fulton longs for his native America while struggling to fit into his new surroundings outside of Tokyo. The Suicide Club is made up of four young adults on the fringe of Japanese society attempting to make sense of their lives, while Sleeping Beauties concerns, albeit sappily, an American teacher and his Japanese lover; the narrator loses his identity through total immersion in his lover's life, yet it's the slow return to self that is even more devastating. If You Can Read This You're Too Close centers on a disillusioned, selfish young man whose life is changed after a blind man sees him. Barzak's perceptive writing evinces the fragile and overwhelming desire for meaning and love. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Have we unfairly placed this novel in the SF section? That's where Barzak and his fans come from, but this story will appeal to those who normally don't touch the genre. As far as classification difficulties go, many critics felt it was a stretch to call The Love We Share Without Knowing
a novel rather than a short story collection. But few held this against Barzak, and it was clear that every reviewer fell in love with at least one story from the book. Critics also appreciated Barzak's light fantastic touch; they hesitated to even call it "magical realism," since events that seem to have supernatural elements to one character in the book may seem completely pedestrian to another. As several observers pointed out, this is a particularly apt style for the depiction of Japan, a simultaneously traditional and modern country. It also suits the book's young characters, who are caught between a longing for the fantasy of childhood and the independence of adulthood.