"Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies"
Magical realism maybe? But not really. There's a sci-fi element and it's won sci-fi awards like the Nebula and Arthur C Clarke awards. (Also, the Booker Prize - but I have no idea if that is indicative of quality to American ears or not.)
It's very hard to categorise! It's actually an anthology of short stories, moving through time from 1850 to the far future. But each story is connected to those coming before and after. It's hard to know how to describe it without spoiling some of the wonder and surprise that comes within.
Also, it has a really pretty cover in my edition. </shallow>
(I've only read one more of his novels so far - The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet - which was slower to get into, but equally worth it by the end. This one set during the Edo period in Japan, in the Dutch East Indies trading outpost of Dejima.)