Southern Cross the Dog
Beau-Miel is destroyed in a fire, leaving Robert to wander a broken land. The novel follows him on his haunted odyssey as he joins a rough work crew and is captured by a mysterious band of fur trappers deep in Mississippi swampland. Wherever Robert goes, something dark and cursed sticks to him. Ultimately, he must decide whether to set off for the future or remain with the devil he's known all along.
Cheng beautifully captures the noisy multitudes of the Jim Crow South in the early 20th century, slipping into different dialects and cadences with rugged grace, never losing sight of the story's beating human center, and bringing to life an imagined landscape where the moon "ooze[s] like a pustule" and "bits of mirror [are] nailed to the trees" to ward off lurking spirits. Finally, we are reminded of the enduring strength required to navigate that "place of lost and losing," our world.