All the Names They Used for God: Stories

Spiegel & Grau. Feb. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9780399593000. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780525508670. F
In the best stories in this smooth collection, individuals longing for something better face adversity and keep moving. An albino girl in the American West loses her parents, marries a charming drifter who loves her but decides to continue his travels, then teeters at the edge of a chasm, with people below calling, and falls "into their waiting arms." An ambitious young man leaves Denmark to "find a place where he could live with abandon," is horribly injured in a factory blast and sullenly accepts dependence on his young daughter, yet travels with her and her mentor to excavate ruins in Egypt. Two young African women kidnapped as teenagers by Muslim extremists return home, having learned to get what they want. Indeed, adversity can teach you things; a man determined to be new at the dating game has a disastrous camping experience (the nutty woman whose invitation he accepted has disappeared) and decides he was happier with his old self.
VERDICT Not all these stories startle, but Sachdeva is a writer to watch.

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