Xhenet Aliu is such a talented writer, it takes my breath away. She took a pretty familiar Lifetime plot (single mother, teenage daughter, absent father) and turned it into a heartbreaking, sweeping, painfully beautiful narrative that is big and mighty while also remaining tender and quiet, one that sweeps across oceans and politics and then sings you a gentle lullaby. To say so much while being so measured with words is everything that a writer could wish for.
I read the novel with impatience, savoring every sentence, and found myself slapping my thighs every so often when I saw how in a small, fleeting observation Aliu was able to convey so many connotations, of class, of gender, of America, of migration, of the other. And the voices, so similar in their hereditory angst, yet so different, full of humor, sass, and vulnerability, were some of the strongest I’ve read lately.
Brass by Xhenet Aliu
Published by Penguin Random House in 2018