A girl who appears to be hewn from a single block of wood is found in the middle of the street one day, holding a bucket. Nobody knows who she is or where she's going - neither does she. The Police take her to the city's orphanage where she does all she can not to be noticed, to become the lowest ranked child of all.
Seldomly have I had the opportunity to read a novel that describes the hopelessness of being human so well, philosophically. The only stories I can think of at the moment that appeal to me personally, would be Woolf's Orlando and Kafka's Metamorphosis. The Old Child is, with the dry tone and that wonderful precocious style sort of Kafkaesque, however feminist. That is: not bad at all.
Read the beginning here.