Following The Missing Person, her highly praised debut—“A seriously entertaining and probing novel,” wrote The Washington Post Book World—Alix Ohlin gives us a collection of stories that demonstrates her impressive range.
In their various locales, from Montreal (where a prosthetic leg casts a furious spell on its beholders) to the Southwest (where a Soviet-era exchange student changes a family’s dynamic forever), the characters in Babylon are coming to terms with life’s epiphanies, for good or ill. They range from the very young who, confronted with their parents’ limitations, discover their own resolve, to those facing middle age and its particular indignities, no less determined to assert themselves and shape their destinies. A tenacious eight-year-old practices piano on paper keys; an expectant mother, settling into an idyllic farmhouse, discovers the tragic story of its previous, rightful inhabitants; and a fictional haunted hospital becomes an obsession for a ghostwriter grappling with her empty nest.
In stories at once clear-eyed and compassionate, brimming with the wit, humor, and warmth for which she has been widely acclaimed, Alix Ohlin gives us unforgettable characters enmeshed in situations both familiar and absurd—all vitally engaged in the transfigurations that delineate any coming of age.
In short, a striking and assured collection from an exceptionally gifted writer.