Synopses & Reviews
Family Album is Ecuadorian author Gabriela Alem n's rollicking follow-up to her acclaimed English-language debut, Poso Wells.
Alem n is known for her spirited and sardonic take on the fatefully interconnected--and often highly compromised--forces at work in present-day South America, and particularly in Ecuador. In this collection of eight hugely entertaining short stories, she teases tropes of hardboiled detective fiction, satire, and adventure narratives to recast the discussion of national identity. A muddy brew of pop-culture and pop-folklore yields intriguing, lesser-known episodes of contemporary Ecuadorian history, along with a rich cast of unforgettable characters whose intimate stories open up onto a vista of Ecuador's place on the world stage.
From a pair of deep-sea divers using Robinson Crusoe's map of a shipwreck to locate sunken treasure in the Galapagos Archipelago, to a night with the husband of Ecuador's most infamous expat, Lorena Bobbit, this series of cracked "family portraits" provides a cast of picaresque heroes and anti-heroes in stories that sneak up on a reader before they know what's happened: they've learned a great deal about a country whose more well known exports--soccer, coffee and cocoa--mask an intriguing national story that's ripe for the telling.
"Gabriela Alem n writes beautiful, sly, enigmatic stories originating in a rogues gallery of real life legends, including El Santo and John Wayne Bobbitt, as well as lesser known and invented souls, all of them struggling against the silent--or is it hostile?--backdrop of Ecuador's past and present. Family Album is a mordantly funny and haunting collection."--Zachary Lazar, author of Vengeance
"Gabriela Alem n takes us through the back alleys of Ecuador's cultural imagination, conjuring up buccaneers and baronesses, luchador movie stars, Biddy Basketball Leagues, and someone named Lorena Bobbitt. The stories in Family Album are dark, witty, and beautifully strange. Reading Alem n is like trying to touch the seabed with your toes: the depths of her craft are seemingly endless."--Stephan Sebastian Herrera, 2021 PEN Emerging Voices Fellow