'Poetic, ambitious ... The pricelessness of our common humanity is one of numerous heavyweight ideas Wieringa balances carefully on his novel’s laden back ... Short, freighted words and sentences carry the novel’s ambiguous, questing symbolism.'
Phoebe Taplin, Guardian
'Superb ... Within pages it becomes clear that this is a rare novel possessed with a sense of place and a purpose. In ways a parable about displacement, encompassing the emotional, the spiritual and the psychological, it has cohesion and urgency, balancing the ordinary with the extreme horrors of a news bulletin. Sam Garrett’s fluid translation not only renders the exchanges into authentic dialogue but also conveys the natural rhythms of Wieringa’s descriptive prose, as well as the internal tone shifts ... This is a bravura performance. Far closer to Joseph Conrad than one might expect, it makes a case for the saving power of small continuities.'
Eileen Battersby, Irish Times
‘A deft, restrained tale of human struggle in a hostile wasteland.’
Claire Lowdon, Times Literary Supplement
'Quietly compelling ... Simply but intriguingly told.'
Lesley McDowell, Sunday Herald
'Tommy Wieringa can do poetry ... but that's not what makes this book such a bewitching delight. What Wieringa does best is people; with a few cherry-picked words he creates a townful of wholly believable, empathetic characters, each subtly leaking their own past, so that within a few pages the reader is surrounded by voices, in turns funny, bitter, hopeful, melancholy, gleefully mercenary and tenderly benign ... I can't recommend this profound, thoughtful, truthful book enough.'
Jane Graham, Big Issue
'This is a landmark novel which, alongside intelligence, discipline and originality, also shows Wieringa’s lust for perfection.'
'Wieringa leaves no doubt as to what it is about — what people believe. Everything revolves around the meaning they give to events. An unusually clever novel.'
'These Are the Names unfolds gently ... The characterisation is superb but not at the expense of the plot.' *****
Guy Pringle, Newbooks
'A haunting page-turner.'
The Weekend West
'Astonishing ... Original, dark and quite unlike anything else I have read ... It speaks to the mood of our time ... Fascinating and superbly told.'
'Wieringa is really plumbing the existential depths of such questions as: Where does our sense of justice come from? And how do religions begin? ... its tone is like a combination of the Old Testament and Kafka.'
Nicholas Reid, Sunday Star Times
'Wieringa interweaves the migrants’ horror stories with Beg’s philosophising, letting readers make their own links. There is humour in Beg’s conversations with his Yoda-like Rabbi; there is sadness in the youngest of the group’s boyish pining for home; and there is hope in Beg’s redemption and that of his new young friend.'
Kathryn Powley, Hobart Mercury
'Wieringa packs a great deal into this strange, sometimes funny, often horrifying fable.'
Andrew Riemer, Sydney Morning Herald
‘The drifters are, to the people of Michailopol, ghosts from the past. Starved, emaciated, they are Europe's repressed vision of the Jews who were once in their midst. Through Beg's search for his own possible Judaism, Wieringa makes explicit the parallel between the story of these all too familiar contemporary migrants and that of the Exodus and deliverance of the Jews from Egypt ... Wieringa lays bare the fact that the lives of people are materially transformed by the stories they tell about themselves’
David Sornig, Adelaide Review
‘An unsettling book, at once grounded in a fearful reality but at the same time dream-like.’
‘[A] quiet masterpiece … A magnum opus from a leading young writer takes on the meaning of exile, identity, faith, and the limits of endurance.’ STARRED REVIEW
‘Bestselling Dutch writer Wieringa’s novel offers two searing portrayals of transformation on the unforgiving Eurasian Steppe … There are echoes of John Steinbeck's intrepid dust bowl survivors, the voyeuristic allure of Franz Kafka’s The Hunger Artist, and the quiet nihilism and documentary detail of British novelist Jim Crace. Wieringa, whose longtime collaboration with translator Sam Garrett pays off again with deft, muscular prose perfectly suited to the author's harrowing vision, strips lives bare and drills to their essence.’ STARRED REVIEW
Praise for Tommy Wieringa:
‘The best contemporary novels are a quest made out of literary and moral ambition. Those who have successfully pursued this Holy Grail in recent times are Bolaño with his The Savage Detectives, Sebald in Austerlitz, Coetzee with Disgrace and the late Philip Roth. From now on, to that august list must be added the name of Tommy Wieringa.’