A Feather on the Breath of God

Sigrid Nunez, Author HarperCollins Publishers $18 (180p) ISBN 978-0-06-017151-3
In this luminous debut novel about a young woman of mixed race, Nunez writes with fierce clarity, rare empathy and sharp humor of immigrant dreams and frustrations. The vulnerable, nameless narrator, who grows up in a Brooklyn housing project in the 1950s and '60s, is the daughter of Carlos, a silent, workaholic Chinese-Panamanian father, and Christa, a self-dramatizing German mother, who met shortly after V-E Day in Germany. Moving to New York in 1948, they raise three daughters in a marriage marked by poverty, violent quarrels and Christa's agoraphobia. Through flashbacks, Nunez shows Christa growing up in a Catholic boarding school taken over by the Nazis, while her father, an anti-Hitler protester, is arrested and confined in a concentration camp. The narrator-ignored by her father and dominated by her mother-escapes into a perfectionistic, masochistic world of ballet classes and becomes anorexic. Later, she has a doomed affair with a married Russian immigrant taxi driver with an unsavory past. The novel is marked by uncompromising honesty and the vivid immediacy of Nunez's prose. Author tour. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/02/1995
Release date: 01/01/1995
Paperback - 180 pages - 978-0-06-092684-7
Paperback - 180 pages - 978-0-312-42273-8
Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-4299-4494-6
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