If Anca Szilágyi’s Daughters of the Air
is a fairy tale, it is a real one of the old school, forged in fire and annealed in blood. If it is a work of realism, it reveals how reality fractures in the face of falsehood — family secrets no less than state ones.
The novel follows the fortunes of Tatiana “Pluta” Spektor, a young girl whose father went missing during Argentina’s Dirty War. Pluta, a runaway lost in New York City, reminded me of Clarice Lispector
’s Macabéa, lost in Rio de Janeiro. And the way the author employs a fabulism bordering on the grotesque — as per Wolfgang Kayser’s view that “the grotesque is the expression of the estranged or alienated world” — reminded me of some of the stranger offerings of Nikolai Gogol