Some short story collections have a uniformity of style, but Michelle Cahill’s Letter to Pessoa (Giramondo) is hard to summarise, except to say that it is a wildly inventive mix of styles and narratives. She is a literary chameleon, competing with Ceridwen Dovey’s recent Only the Animals in her audacity and ambition. Like Dovey she can master technical language, or ventriloquise other writers, or describe poetically. Or matter-of-factly give the narrative centre-stage. Her stories flower in the uncertain terrain of globalisation, describing the cross-pollination of ideas, the flight from war and the lure of the East for Westerners, but she also gets beyond types – the immigrant, the refugee, the tourist – to the particular shape and colour of individual lives.


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