Hannah Tucker
October 12, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

In Cees Nooteboom’s Lost Paradise, Alma is a reflective young Brazilian-German woman fleeting the memory of a recent trauma; Erik Zontag is a wry, middle-aged critic whose girlfriend convinces him he needs a break from Amsterdam. During their travels to both an Australian city and a mountain village in Austria, these two strangers’ lives intersect in brief, nearly wordless, but life-changing ways. This dreamy, philosophical novel can be read in on sitting, but its images (a winged woman curled up in a bare cupboard) and its funny, profound meditations on fate (”life…is the stupidest of culinary experiments”) will haunt you much longer. A-

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