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Come Together, Fall Apart: A Novella and Storiesby Cristina Henriquez
"Henríquez, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, presents a stunning debut collection of eight stories and a novella, all of which take place in Panama. Unlike so many stories set in an exotic locale, which tend to read like fictionalized guidebooks, these bring the country to life with fluency and verve, its sights and sounds observed from the thoughtful distance of a writer removed by a generation....
Synopses & Reviews
An exciting New Yorker debut fiction writer and new voice in Latina fiction brings us stories as beautiful as they are gritty, as haunting as they are immediate.
From its dusty city streets lined with lottery stands and popsicle vendors to its humid and desolate beaches, Cristina Henríquez brings Panama vibrantly to life on the pages of her remarkable debut. Just as Junot Díaz created an intensely urban literary landscape from the barrios of the Dominican Republic and the immigrant communities of New Jersey, Henríquez now carves out a vision of contemporary Panama as seen through the eyes of those who call it home and those who, in making lives in the States, have become outsiders.
Come Together, Fall Apart introduces us to young people at emotional crossroads — a man in a remote beach town who can't decide whether to marry his girlfriend; a girl whose close relationship with her mother is strained by her feelings for her first boyfriend; an American girl who is staying with her grandparents in Panama while her parents divorce at home; a young woman who wants more from life than her boyfriend, job, and drug habit have to offer — and vividly captures the varied landscapes and shifting culture of a country in transition.
These stories of family bonds and generational conflicts, youthful infatuation and genuine passion are tender, ambitious, and unflinching. They herald the arrival of a fresh, exciting, and lavishly talented new voice in American literature.
"The characters in this eloquent, muted debut collection of eight stories plus the title novella are eager to enjoy life, though thwarted by the inimical conditions of a Panama in transition after the collapse of Noriega's rule. The young couple in the first story, 'Yanina,' embody a sweetly turbulent and conflicted relationship: the title character, wounded by the marital infidelity of her father and later of her godfather, asks her well-meaning but still uncertain boyfriend, Ren, to marry her 45 times. 'Ashes,' which first appeared in The New Yorker, tracks the unraveling effects of a mother's death on her daughter, Mireya, already adrift in troubled relationships and endangered by her arduous job as a meat cutter. Characters reel from family rupture and dysfunction: the teenaged Maria in 'Mercury,' for example, is torn between her home in New Jersey, where her parents are divorcing, and Panama City, where she is sent to visit aging grandparents she wants desperately to impress with her Spanish. The eponymous final novella, set in late 1989 on the eve of the American invasion of Panama, affectingly reveals a country 'teetering on the edge of a cliff' through the fate of a family forced to leave their ancestral Panama City home. (Apr.) " Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Henríquez creates a vision of Panama that is at once sweepingly realistic and subtly hallucinogenic....Henríquez is an immensely gifted young writer who evokes the spirit of a struggling land and the people who love it beyond reason." Booklist (Starred Review)
"[A] dazzling new talent. Henríquez's voice is artfully simple and unembellished, soft yet quietly piercing....Stories redolent of innocent attachment tempered by obdurate experience — compassionate, tender and fresh." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Each beautifully crafted piece in Cristina Henríquez's first effort...stands on its own....This is powerful writing that creates astonishing juxtapositions and is a great centerpiece for a first collection." Seattle Times
"At age 28 Henríquez has already achieved a lifetime's worth of writing and awards. It's exciting to think that her stories will continue to remind us that when all seems lost, we can still find something that carries us to a divergent path of another kind of insistent hope." San Antonio Express-News
About the Author
Cristina Henríquez's stories have been published in the New Yorker, Glimmer Train, TriQuarterly, and AGNI. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and was featured in The Virginia Quarterly Review as one of "Fiction's New Luminaries."
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