A lyrical memory novel—the eighth by a Portuguese writer who recently shared a literary prize with Nobel laureate José Saramago—consists of its unnamed narrator’s fragmented remembrance of, and speculations about, her vagrant father. She is a 15-year-old whose romantic imagination embroiders lavishly (though not ingenuously) on the few facts her scattered family choose to reveal. He (the eponymous artist whose specialty is avian images) is an amoral egoist “interested only in the horizons of his own land . . . . ” Jorge doesn’t miss the irony of a “painter of birds” who lacks a homing instinct, and her subtly constructed tale builds slowly into a devastating portrait of the artist as a monster that cannot be caged or tamed. Saramago himself has praised The Painter of Birds, and it’s easy to see why.