This is a haunting shimmer of a novel, whose pub date–eerily–was Sept. 11, and whose particular daring seems prescient. An ordinary girl grows up in Scotland, around the time of World War II, among companions not of the present world. The prose is glorious, vivid, and artful: We behold with simple wonder the shining rims of a dark-eyed bird, for example; likewise the lidless eyes of wounded soldiers, condemned to stare and stare. Evocative and beautiful, this novel conjures up an atmosphere strangely of our time, even as it strikes and limns, moving our furniture as surely as it moves its own.
Gish Jen wrote Who’s Irish?: Stories.