HBO is going to release in May the tv version of Fernando Aramburu's Patria (Homeland). The novel was absolutely huge in Spain in 2016, so i was searching for international reviews, i knew it was well received in Italy (where it received an award) but i was particularly interested in the USA. Most of the reviews i watched were very positive (in fact it made the best of the year list in a newspaper) including a star review on Kirkus but i was surprised by the incredibly bad review on the New York Times. The novel was controversial in Spain, because it was considered a taboo theme for a novel till recently, and it has it's detractors, from the ones who don't like Aramburu's writing style to the ones who think he didn't treat the theme correctly (i had mixed feelings when i read it, and if i have to recomend a foreign only one spanish novel of the last 20 years to read it would be Crematorio by Rafael Chirbes) but i was surprised by the incredibly poor review of the NYT.
And when i say poor, i'm not saying negative, one can write a negative review and even if you don't agree you are able to see the point of the critic, but that was not the case. The critic started with the style, i don't have nothing to say about, it's a question of taste and i don't remember being particularly impressed by the writer's skills, but then go to say that the novel doesn't treat equally the victim and the terrorists which is a disturbing point of view (i never read someone complaining that the nazis and the jews were not treated equally on a II world war novel) and is exactly the same people linked to ETA claimed here. That point of view doesn't hold a close view, Miren, the mother of the terrorist is a very unpleasant character, she is narrow minded and harsh, but curiously, she has both things in common with Bittori who is the victim's wife. Arantxa who is the killer's sister is probably the most sympathetic character on the whole novel, and Gorka (who is his brother) is a sympathetic character too (both are way more interesting than the victim's son and daughter).
Then he points that a lot of characters suffer some illness. I saw that point on forums too, and i find it ridiculous, the novel develops on a time span of 40 years, so yes, with time most characters have medical problems and that's only realistic.
Then accuses the novel of not going into the heart of the conflict, and i found that incredibly blind, because the Basque conflict is not the theme of the novel but how that conflict was able to separate childhood friends and made them enemies, how you should not react to your feelings only to survive and how the fear installed on a society.
But the worst point is that he accused the novel to be boring, and i'm sorry but you don't sell over a million in Spain with a boring novel, in fact the novel is pretty addictive. Unlike Creamatorio (or En la orilla, which is published in english with the title of On the edge), Patria is a very easy novel to read, and a page turner