As a winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, the novel received largely positive reception. The LA Times described the novel as a "under-the-radar" second novel, which deserves the reward. The reviewer described as a successful depiction of Southern life and culture and "an intense book, with powerful, direct prose that dips into poetic metaphor." Similarly the New York Times Sunday Book Review called the novel "a taut, wily novel, smartly plotted and voluptuously written." The Washington Post wrote that " it’ll be a long time before its magic wears off" and that the novel has the "aura of a classic about it."
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