cover image The Wind Whistling in the Cranes

The Wind Whistling in the Cranes

Lídia Jorge, trans. from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa and Annie McDermott. Liveright, $30 (528p) ISBN 978-1-63149-759-9

Jorge (The Painter of Birds) delivers a captivating Romeo and Juliet–style love story set in the Algarve of Portugal and wrapped in the saga of a country politically altered by postcolonial migration following the Carnation Revolution of 1974. Workers are taking control of factories and farms, selling machinery, and ruining businesses. By 1984, defunct cannery Fabrica de Conservas Leandro is home to the Matas, a family of Cape Verde immigrants who rent from Dona Regina Leandro. After the Leandro matriarch wanders out of an ambulance wearing a nightgown at a gas station and staggers to the gates of the Old Factory, where she dies, her granddaughter, Milene, seeks the truth behind the unexplainable events. Dominoes fall quickly once the Matas find Milene, “the white person,” hiding in the courtyard. After Milene meets the widowed Antonino Mata, circumstances become the “absolute monarchs” of Milene’s and Antonio’s lives as their devious family members try to keep them apart. Meanwhile, developers swarm around the canning factory and the future looks uncertain for the community. Throughout, Jorge blends the personal drama with insight on the compounding social issues, making the account sing on several levels. The result is brilliant and trenchant. (Feb.)