Synopses & Reviews
Humans have always connected deeply to the idea of home. In Bryn Chancellor’s nine stories, home means, in part, the physical spaces: the buildings, cities and towns, the fragile, imperious landscapes of the region. But home is also profoundly rooted in intangibles. Set in urban and rural Arizona, home, for the characters in these stories, is love—familial, romantic, and unrequited. It is loss and grief. It is the memories that surface late at night. It is mystery and longing and a shining flicker of hope.
In the title story, a locksmith prowls empty houses and befriends a young mother as he and his wife grapple with a tragedy perpetrated by their son. During an overseas trip, a daughter grieving for her father struggles with her mother’s altered appearance; an irrigation worker meets a troubled teenage girl in the darkness of her flooded yard; and a daughter and her estranged, ailing mother stay in a dilapidated cabin while a mountain lion stalks the woods. Through chance meetings between strangers, collisions within families, and confrontations with the self, these characters leave and return, time and again, trying desperately to find their way home.
“In these richly textured and at times heartbreaking stories, Amina Gautier forges the links between generations and across oceans. She is a builder of bridges as she strives to find that middle ground between the two islands—Manhattan and Puerto Rico—that exert their tug on her characters and shape who they are and what they become.”—Mary Morris, author of Revenge
“In these moving, dramatic stories about hunger and fullness, Amina Gautier explores what it means to strive and live in the margins of American hope. Her shrewd compassion brings together characters determined to be happy and shows the cost of happiness with vivid, rich intelligence.”—Erin McGraw, author of Better Food for a Better World.
"The 11 linked stories in Gautier's debut collection . . . vividly evoke Puerto Rico's intoxicating, comforting atmosphere—that unbreakable tether binding struggling people in crowded Northeastern U.S. cities to their tropical homeland. . . . Gautier captures the unique experience, and predicament, of Puerto Ricans living in the mainland U.S."—Publishers Weekly
"Gautier's linked stories deftly capture her characters' internal struggles for identity and home."—Leah Strauss, Booklist
"Told with respect, grit, and truth, Now We Will Be Happy is a powerful collection about family, identity, and the sacrifices we make in our pursuits of happiness."—Laura Farmer, Cedar Rapids Gazette
“These masterful and moving stories whisk us to the brittle edge, the place where pain splinters the husk from which understanding emerges.”—Lorraine López, author of Homicide Survivors Picnic, and Other Stories
“Bryn Chancellor is an amazing, sensitive, and thoughtful writer. . . . The depth on display in these carefully crafted, emotionally resonant stories is staggering.”—Kevin Wilson, author of Tunneling to the Center of the Earth and The Family Fang
“When Are You Coming Home? is a knockout! These nine stories turned me into an emotional pinball, zinging from humor to heartbreak and back again. Bryn Chancellor is the real thing, a true artist and one hell of a storyteller.” —Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow
Now We Will Be Happy is a prize-winning collection of stories about Afro-Puerto Ricans, U.S.-mainland-born Puerto Ricans, and displaced native Puerto Ricans who are living between spaces while attempting to navigate the unique culture that defines Puerto Rican identity. Amina Gautiers characters deal with the difficulties of bicultural identities in a world that wants them to choose only one.
The characters in Now We Will Be Happy are as unpredictable as they are human. A teenage boy leaves home in search of the mother he hasnt seen since childhood; a granddaughter is sent across the ocean to broker peace between her relatives; a widow seeks to die by hurricane; a married woman takes a bathtub voyage with her lover; a proprietress who is the glue that binds her neighborhood cannot hold on to her own son; a displaced wife develops a strange addiction to candles.
Crossing boundaries of comfort, culture, language, race, and tradition in unexpected ways, these characters struggle valiantly and doggedly to reconcile their fantasies of happiness with the realities of their existence.
About the Author
Bryn Chancellor is an assistant professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her short fiction has appeared in Gulf Coast, Blackbird, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, Phoebe, and elsewhere. She received the Poets and Writers 2014 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award in fiction.