BOOKS: GROWING PAIN

NAKED SLEEPER IS A FINE NOVEL OF MATURING AT 40

At the end of Sigrid Nunez's much praised first novel, A Feather on the Breath of God, the protagonist, a daughter of joyless immigrant parents, leaves her pained life in New York City to teach English in China. Never having experienced a sense of emotional belonging, she now chooses a life that will make her perpetual sense of alienation all the more urgent.

It is fitting that the heroine of the author's fine, quietly melancholy second book, Naked Sleeper (HarperCollins; 235 pages; $23), should share her predecessor's vocation, for she too seems compelled to intensify her sense of disconnect. Though Nona...

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