Raymond Fiore
March 28, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

In this raw debut collection filled with dislocated, dutiful souls, Peruvian-born Daniel Alarcón probes his lineage in relation to his Alabama-bred Americanness. He offers crooked, mournful views of his ”beautifully disgraced Lima, unhappy and impervious to change,” and captures the turmoil of a multi-hyphenated identity. In the heavy-hearted highlight ”City of Clowns,” a son assesses his late father’s life and the curious ”nostalgic widows’ duet” between Dad’s wife and mistress. Though the other tales don’t sting with the same ripened skill, Alarcón accords each mother, terrorist, and transplant the same nuanced respect.

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