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 A yearning, homesick mother, a silent and withdrawn father, the ballet—these are the elements that shape the young woman's imagination and her sexuality.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.
"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
FEATHER ON THE BREATH OF GOD, A
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...