Daughters of the Air
Anca Szilágyi is one of Seattle's emerging stars, having written impeccable pieces for the Stranger, the Los Angeles Review of Books and Electric Literature. Her debut novel, Daughters of the Air, takes Szilágyi's sharp sense of detail and fabulist sensibilities to new heights in the story of young Tatiana "Pluta" Spektor.
Alternating between Buenos Aires in 1978 and New York City in 1980, reverberations from the absence of Pluta's father haunt her coming of age. An unwavering academic, he is one of the disappeared during Argentina's Dirty War. Pluta's mother and aunt devise a plan to save the girl from further trauma by sending her to boarding school in Connecticut. Left to her own devices, however, Pluta flees to the city to escape her exile. There, she discovers a guileful metropolis, rife with the machinations of men, as she wrestles private demons and the unnerving new flesh protruding from her back.
Szilágyi writes sinewy, visceral prose. She evokes the noise, smells and grime of late 20th-century Brooklyn streets, the lush serenity in an Argentinian home prior to tragedy and a family shattered by a faceless political force. All the while, the specter of magical realism lurks just behind Pluta, enhancing the anxious nature of solitary adolescent fumbling, and complicating the hubris of her first independent steps. A striking debut from a writer to watch, Daughters of the Air is gritty yet gorgeous, severe yet convivial, as it navigates uncertain times in a treacherous world. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness