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A Feather on the Breath of God

A Novel

Sigrid Nunez; Introduction by Susan Choi


A Feather on the Breath of God Download image

ISBN10: 1250816238
ISBN13: 9781250816238

Trade Paperback

208 Pages



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A Feather on the Breath of God is a a young woman's look at the world of her immigrant parents: a Chinese Panamanian father and a German mother. Growing up in a housing project in the 1950s and 1960s, she escapes into dreams inspired both by her parents' stories and by her own reading and, for a time, into the otherworldly life of ballet. A yearning, homesick mother, a silent and withdrawn father, the ballet—these are the elements that shape the young woman's imagination and her sexuality. It is a story about displacement and loss, and about the tangled nature of relationships between parents and children, between language and love.


Praise for A Feather on the Breath of God

"A forceful novel by a writer of uncommon talent."—The New York Times Book Review

"A remarkable, often disturbing portrait . . . Nunez's language throughout is spare, utterly lacking in sentimentality."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

"An intelligent and poignant examination of social and erotic displacement, and written with such extraordinary and seemingly unstudied conviction that one accepts every word of it as truth."—Atlantic Monthly

"A Feather on the Breath of God brilliantly succeeds in describing a life on the fringe, outside the conventional categories of cultural and personal identity . . . A remarkable book, full of strange brilliance, trembling with fury and tenderness."—The Philadelphia Inquirer

"This is a very honest, painful book, almost relentless in its objectivity. The heroine's Chinese father, German mother, and Russian lover embody different fates of American immigrants. This novel is a genuine piece of immigrant literature and deserves a large readership."—Ha Jin, Bookforum

"This strange, lucid story of the unwished-for child of unassimilated immigrants takes us well beyond the particulars of 'mixed ethnicity'—beyond even the experience of 'America'—into deep paradoxes of identity and love. Both old-fashioned and subversive, stringent and redemptive, it's a pleasure from the first page to the last."—Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections

"An exquisite novel that saves us from our primal fears of loss by reaffirming our belief in the immortality of love. The book is complex and beautifully felt, and I was haunted by it. Sigrid Nunez is a radiant and tenacious writer."—Fae Myenne Ng, author of Bone

"With a subtle blend of fierceness and evanescence, Nunez's debut comments profoundly on the lasting effects of the immigrant experience and the haunting powers of family . . . A rich, intelligent tapestry of the connections between language, love, beauty, and forgiveness."—Kirkus Reviews

"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 novel is marked by uncompromising honesty and the vivid immediacy of Nunez's prose."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt



The first time I ever heard my father speak Chinese was at Coney Island. I don't remember how old I was then, but I must have been very...

About the author

Sigrid Nunez; Introduction by Susan Choi

Sigrid Nunez is the New York Times bestselling author of The Friend, winner of the 2018 National Book Award, and of several other novels, including What Are You Going Through and The Last of Her Kind. She is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. Her work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages.

Susan Choi’s first novel, The Foreign Student, won the Asian-American Literary Award for fiction. Her second novel, American Woman, was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize. Her third novel, A Person of Interest, was a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award. In 2010 she was named the inaugural recipient of the PEN/W.G. Sebald Award. Her fourth novel, My Education, received a 2014 Lammy Award. Her fifth novel, Trust Exercise, won the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction. Her first book for children, Camp Tiger, was also published in 2019. A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, she teaches fiction writing at Yale and lives in Brooklyn.

©Marion Ettlinger

Sigrid Nunez

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