Preparation for the Next Life, by debut author Atticus Lish is an extraordinary portrayal of people on the margins of life. It centres on the lives of two people who stumble across each other when they are at their most vulnerable and forge a relationship in which each is subtly offering the other salvation rather than seeking it themselves.
Zou Lei is an ethnic Uighur from remote northwest China who has sneaked illegally into America. She exists by scavenging and doing menial jobs, including working at cheap Chinese restaurants in Queens New York. But her remote dialect means she often cannot understand them or they her. And despite her tireless attempts to find her place in the social hotchpotch, she remains an outsider to everyone. Her Muslim faith is an additional alienating danger in post-9/11 America.
Skinner is an Iraq veteran wounded in an attack in which most of his