cover image The Silk Road

The Silk Road

Kathryn Davis. Graywolf, $24 (144p) ISBN 978-1-55597-829-7

Davis’s provocative and offbeat eighth novel (after Duplex) is a haunting take on the fluidity and circuitousness of human life, fragmented through the stories of a group of eight siblings—the Astronomer, the Archivist, the Botanist, the Keeper, the Topologist, the Geographer, the Iceman, and the Cook. The novel opens deep inside the labyrinth of an isolated settlement, following a yoga class led by Jee Moon, the mysterious woman who has uncanny and uncomfortable ties to the siblings. After they perform the corpse pose and one of the siblings doesn’t arise, readers are led into the slipstream of the siblings’ collective lifetime. The narrative braids scenes from their turbulent childhood—spent with their capricious mother, stoic father, and odd Nanny—with moments from their individual and collective memories, from the senseless violence of a prison break to the various lovers of their lives. Even as the siblings disagree over which details belong to whose memories, they prove that the combined sum of the whole is greater than the parts as they craft their family—and, by extension, human—history as they live it. Davis is a singular writer, capable of piercing observations and gorgeous language. [em](Mar.) [/em]