Girl, World is a collection of stories about survival: women discovering their untapped strengths and their metamorphoses into becoming whole. Mixing lyricism, stark realism, emotional depth, and vivacious language, Alex Poppe has crafted unforgettable female characters who navigate through places where the big political picture is captured in their personal stories.
Readers of these stories travel, for example, from the confinement of the Occupied Territories to the wilds of Northern Iraq, from hipster Brooklyn to Bosnian brothels, and each story charts a heart-pounding emotional landscape. In “Kurdistan,” Shatu, a newly orphaned teenager, moves from Nashville to Kurdistan to live with her Aunt Maya, a wealthy artist. A stranger in a strange land, Shatu unlocks family secrets and witnesses a myth become reality as she takes her first steps into adulthood. “My Mother’s Daughter” follows a generation of stolen Slavic women to their breaking ground, where they are emotionally and physically shattered before they are sold to Bosnian brothels in the aftermath of the Balkan War. “Moxie” is set in Poppe’s native Brooklyn, where Jax, a top model overcome by guilt, must rebuild her life after half her face is destroyed. The characters in Girl, World bend the concept of family as they struggle with the grief, betrayal, violence, and alienation that redefine who they are. Weaving magical realism with local topography, the imagery, empathy, and testimony of these stories celebrate the fragile grandeur of everyday life.
Spanning three continents and employing a variety of writing styles and registers, this collection demonstrates Poppe’s versatility as a storyteller. Her ear for dialogue creates authentic characters that exist long after the last page is turned. Her greatest strength is her descriptive prowess: fresh, quirky, physically-grounded imagery expressed in a direct, confiding tone. This collection echoes the work of Anthony Doerr and Anthony Marra, while establishing a voice that is uniquely hers.