Rich and haunting in language, The Saskiad is an epic tale about the search for home and family in the life of a precocious young girl. Twelve years old and steeped in story, the ferociously bright Saskia is growing up in, and largely holding together, a rundown commune in rural New York. The guru is long gone, the psychedelic paint job on the battered pickup has been covered over, her mother’s current boyfriend is an embarrassment, and the only news Saskia gets from the father she can’t remember is an occasional postcard from far away.
A voracious reader, Saskia injects fantasy into real life with a transforming energy. She feasts at Odysseus’ side and helps steer his ship homeward under the brilliant stars. Marco Polo shares trading tips with her as they travel together across desert wastes to the rich, strange towns of Cathay. In school, she is making a sextant as a birthday present for Captain Hornblower, who loves her but is too shy and awkward to admit it. Saskia tries to draw the younger children of the commune into her imaginary world, but she needs a partner, a comrade-in-arms, and she finds one in a newcomer to her school, the beautiful thirteen-year-old Jane Singh. The girls’ friendship is flourishing when Saskia suddenly gets an invitation to join her father on a holiday expedition, the destination and ultimate purpose of which are as mysterious as he is.
“With each surprising turn of plot, The Saskiad seems to draw on new reserves of imaginative energy, and its heroine’s bedrock honesty and freshness of perception make her story a continual delight . . . Deftly employing a classical structure, with nods along the way to modern writers as diverse as Herman Melville, Lewis Carroll and James Joyce, [Hall] has produced a mutlilayered post-modernist work of exhilarating ambition and inventiveness, an American book of wonders.” —The New York Times
“Brian Hall has captured the essence of an adolescent . . . Slipping in and out of Saskia’s beautifully described romances, he plays exhilarating games with myth and narrative—and secrets—which invest his text with colour, movement and a magical quality.” —The Times (London)