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Iphigenia in Forest Hills

Anatomy of a Murder Trial

  • Janet Malcolm
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Reviews

"Iphigenia in Forest Hills is a garden of forking paths where at every turn new and contradictory narrative byways open up. . . A brief book but immense if measured by the implications that can be teased out of its sentences." —Geoffrey O'Brien, New York Review of Books

"Janet Malcolm has produced another masterpiece of literary reportage"—Geoff Dyer, FT.com

"Reading [Malcolm], you have the sensation of encountering a mind at once incredibly blunt and terrifically precise: a sledgehammer that could debone a shad. That rare and strange effect could only be produced by an intellect as formidable as Malcolm’s."—Kathryn Schulz, Boston Globe

"This is shrewd and quirky crime reporting at its irresistible and disabused best."—Louis Begley, Wall Street Journal

"Malcolm eschews the pretense of certainty that most journalists adopt; instead, her process of probing the ambiguities, of investigating exactly how much she knows and does not know, becomes crucial to her narratives. . . . In the rigor of her investigation [Malcolm] reaches a different kind of truth." —Ruth Franklin, New Republic

“This absorbing book is [Malcolm’s] account of a trial that throws an unflattering spotlight on the US justice system, and will make every American cross their fingers and hope never to sit in the dock.”—Rosemary Goring, Glasgow Herald

“If you have never read Malcolm, you are in for a treat. All her books are short and sharp and fiercely intelligent: as one of her colleagues put it, her ‘blade gleams with a razor edge’….Trials make great theatre and the five week trial of Borukhova and Mallayev offered Malcolm some very colourful characters.”—Craig Brown, The Mail on Sunday

“In Iphigenia in forest Hills, Janet Malcolm turns her excellence in first-person reportage to the American justice system, by way of a real jury trial in New York City in 2009…..A gripping read.”—Marcel Berlins, The Times

“Malcolm has written a fascinating story….her essay’s after effect is entirely disproportionate to its brevity. The disquiet stays with you. It’s there in the pit of your stomach.”—Rachel Cooke, The Observer

“[Malcolm] is an excellent observer, with a good eye for detail.”—Lynn Barber, The Sunday Times

“This new book does for the courtroom what Malcolm’s previous books did for biography, journalism and psychoanalysis. It shows that in a high-stakes trial nobody, least of all the judge, is an entirely disinterested player.”—Jonathan Bate, The Sunday Telegraph

“As soon as I read this bizarre murder story, I felt impelled to read it again. It is impossible to put down.”—Julia Pascal, The Independent

“….it’s after the trial, when Malcolm gets among the Bukharan families in their homes, that she is most splendidly and poignantly in her element. Her presence in the text is lighter, her touch firmer and more delicate, and her attention more warmly and accurately attuned, than those of any other writer I can think of. All her life she has been perfecting this superb narrating and analytical voice and I for one would follow it anywhere.”—Helen Garner, Sydney Morning Herald

"Iphigenia in Forest Hills is a garden of forking paths where at every turn new and contradictory narrative byways open up. It is a brief book but immense if measured by the implications that can be teased out of its sentences—not to mention the spaces between the sentences. By the time we are done the certainties of legal evidence and judicial decisions have given way to a fundamental and unappeasable ambiguity."—Geoffrey O'Brien, New York Review of Books

“A prize-winning journalist discovers the elements of Greek tragedy in a sensational murder trial. This is a riveting account of the recent bizarre and intriguing Borukhova case. Janet Malcolm’s journalistic brilliance paints an unsettling picture of a fractured marriage, legal manoeuvrings and a fatal custody battle that precipitated murder.”—Granta

“Malcolm’s interpretation is…astonishing…Under her brilliant gaze, a seemingly incidental detail shines suddenly with meaning.” —Elizabeth Gumport, The Guardian

"A curious, compelling, and somewhat bedeviling book. . . . Malcolm is wonderfully equipped for the task of anatomizing the dynamics of the legal process. Her oeuvre of books has mixed clear-eyed reporting with rigorous investigations into the lures and snares of narrative, and she writes a precise, unflappable prose that seems purpose-built to chart the inflationary theatrics of a high-stakes trial."—Eli Gottlieb, Forward

"It would be hard to pinpoint a common link between Janet Malcolm's many books, other than their consistent brilliance. . . . In Malcolm's hands, this isn't just the story of murder trial; it's a disquisition on the theater of justice. . . . Suffice it to say, after reading Iphigenia in Forest Hills, you are not likely to view future criminal trials in the same light."—Alan Bisbort, The Sunday Republican

"Iphigenia in Forest Hills is a garden of forking paths where at every turn new and contradictory narrative byways open up."—Geoffrey O'Brien, The New York Review of Books

"[Malcolm] is obviously a talented journalist who obtains a great deal of information and offers it to her rapt readers with considerable flair. Malcolm raises acute questions about out trial system. . . . Her perceptive analysis provides readers with a great deal to ponder."—Morton I. Teicher, The Buffalo Jewish Review

"Janet Malcolm’s new book, Iphigenia in Forest Hills, is a slim little volume. If it is a cold night and you don’t mind a few wrinkles, you can read the entire thing in the bath. If it is not a cold night, it will feel like one by the time you finish."—Kathryn Schulz, Boston Globe

"Iphigenia in Forest Hills is an incendiary book that begins and ends—like any good epic must—in medias res . . . . It's a story that discomfits as much as it explains. Not for Malcolm the journalism of 'reassurance' or 'rhetorical ruses,' her small book with big stakes and mythic underpinnings flies close to the sun. It unsettles and scorches and soars."—Parul Sehgal, Bookforum

"Absorbing . . . . Iphigenia in Forest Hills casts, from its first pages, a genuine spell—the kind of spell to which Ms. Malcolm’s admirers (and I am one) have become addicted."—Dwight Garner, New York Times Book Review

"In brave and crisp language, Malcolm formulates a verdict to resonate beyond the courtroom."—David Astle, ABC Radio (Au), The Book Show

"Reading Janet Malcolm’s new book, you might mistakenly think you had picked up a novel. Yet the plot is all too true and the characters are right out of the pages of the newspapers. The story ...is so well written here that you not only get the facts of the sensational murder and riveting trial, you get the conflicts and the doubts too. Both intellectual and emotional precision are the guiding forces in this tale of justice."—Jewish Book World

"So well written...you not only get the facts of the sensational murder and riveting trial, you get the conflicts and the doubts too. Both intellectual and emotional precision are the guiding forces in this tale of justice."—Jewish Book World

“Janet Malcolm’s characteristically incisive account of a murder trial.”—Geoff Dyer, Prospect Magazine

"a passionate, incredulous indictment of the American legal system and its brutal bureaucracy." — Christopher Hirst, The Independent i

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