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Publisher: Grove Press, Black Cat (2010-09-07)
ISBN-10/ISBN-13: 0802170781 / 9780802170781
Amazon.com Sales Rank: 713365
(Grove Press, Black Cat $14.00)
“The stories in Patricia Engel’s striking debut collection are like snapshots from someone’s photo album: glimpses of relatives, friends, lovers and acquaintances, sometimes posing, sometimes caught by the camera unawares. There are portraits of Latinos in suburban ‘Gringolandia,’ and portraits of young drifters in Miami, 16 of them sharing a single apartment, mattresses crammed together on the floor ‘like it was war times.’ There’s a skinny 16-year-old boy who always wears faded jeans and ‘a white button-down shirt that looked like it only got washed in the sink,’ a high school mean girl who develops a fatal case of anorexia, a womanizing pot dealer who becomes the narrator’s best friend and a Colombian beauty queen who comes to America and is forced into prostitution.”
Michiko Kakutani (The New York Times)
Fresh, accomplished, and fearless, Vida marks the debut of Patricia Engel, a young author of immense talent and promise. Vida follows a single narrator, Sabina, as she navigates her shifting identity as a daughter of the Colombian diaspora and struggles to find her place within and beyond the net of her strong, protective, but embattled family.
In Lucho,” Sabina’s familyalready foreigners in a town of blancos”is shunned by the community when a relative commits an unspeakable act of violence, but she is in turn befriended by the town bad boy who has a secret of his own; in Desaliento,” Sabina surrounds herself with other young drifters who spend their time looking for love and then fleeing from ituntil reality catches up with one of them; and in Vida,” the urgency of Sabina’s self-imposed exile in Miami fades when she meets an enigmatic Colombian woman with a tragic past.
Patricia Engel maps landscapes both actual and interior in this stunning debut, and the constant throughout is Sabinaserious, witty, alternately cautious and reckless, open to transformation yet skeptical of its lasting power. Infused by a hard-won, edgy wisdom, Vida introduces a sensational new literary voice.
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