A Feather on the Breath of God

by Sigrid Nunez. HarperCollins, 180 pages, $18.00.
The first-person narrator of this first novel is the daughter of an unprosperous Chinese and the German wife he acquired while serving in the Second World War. How and why this happened is a total puzzle to their daughter growing up outside New York City, where both her parents are uncomfortable aliens and she herself feels anchorless.The novel is 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 the truth. An impressive debut.