The short story form can be difficult to master for some authors. Creating characters and storylines worth reading in a few pages isn’t easy. The three Latina authors this week, however, have done just that. Each of the books this week focuses on different aspects of life, including the importance of family, ancestry, and cultural heritage.
Things we Lost in the Fire, by Mariana Enriquez – The stories in this collection by Argentine author Mariana Enriquez depict life in Buenos Aires and its suburbs. They explore the historic political climate and unrest of the country, and its effects on its people. They are dark, unsettling, and supernatural at times. In “Adela’s House,” three friends enter an abandoned house on their block, and discover that there is much more going on inside than appears from the street. In the deeply unsettling “The Neighbor’s Courtyard,” a woman begins to spy on her neighbor after seeing something disturbing in the sliver of his courtyard that she can see from her house. In “Things we Lost in the Fire,” women begin to burn themselves in bonfires in protest of domestic violence. This book explores what happens when women take things into their own hands, and decided between the status quo, and something else, with often disturbing results.
Sabrina & Corina, by Kali Fajardo-Anstine – These stories focus on Latina women of indigenous descent living in and around Denver, Colorado. They are about the importance of family, and what can happen when familial bonds become frayed and break. Ancestry and heritage play a strong role in each story. In “Sugar Babies,” a middle school girl is uninterested in her school project where she must take care of a sack of sugar as if it were a real baby, while at the same time dealing with the return of her largely absent mother. In “Tomi,” a woman recently released from prison returns to the house she grew up in to live with her brother, and begins to bond with her young nephew. In “Sabrina & Corina,” a young woman’s cousin whom she was once close to has died, and at her grandmother’s request, does her cousin’s makeup for the funeral. Focusing on what happens when family and life circumstances change, these stories are all powerful.
Mouthful of Birds, by Samanta Schweblin – The stories in this collection are weird, disorienting, and will often leave you wondering what is actually happening. In these stories, anything can happen, and the characters’ lives change suddenly, often into something from a dream. In “The Digger,” a man leaves his life behind and rents a secluded house in the middle of nowhere, only to find an old man digging a mysterious hole in the front yard. In “Headlights,” a young woman is abandoned on the side of a road by her new husband on her wedding day. The man in “Mouthful of Birds” finds that his daughter has developed alarming new eating habits, and that his ex-wife is tired of dealing with her. This collection will leave you with a feeling of unease, but you won’t be able to look away.
Click on the link below to find a booklist with these books, and more short story collections by Latinx authors that you can request today!