United in their fierce sense of place and infused with the fading echoes of a lost homeland, the stories in Jennine Capó Crucet’s striking debut collection do for Miami what Edward P. Jones does for Washington, D.C., and what James Joyce did for Dublin: they expand our ideas and our expectations of the city by exposing its tough but vulnerable underbelly.
Crucet’s writing has been shaped by the people and landscapes of South Florida and by the stories of Cuba told by her parents and abuelos. Her own stories are informed by her experiences as a Cuban American woman living within and without her community, ready to leave and ready to return, “ready to mourn everything.”
Coming to us from the predominantly Hispanic working-class neighborhoods of Hialeah, the voices of this steamy section of Miami shout out to us from rowdy all-night funerals and kitchens full of plátanos and croquetas and lechón ribs, from domino tables and cigar factories, glitter-purple Buicks and handed-down Mom Rides, private homes of santeras and fights on front lawns. Calling to us from crowded expressways and canals underneath abandoned overpasses shading a city’s secrets, these voices are the heart of Miami, and in this award-winning collection Jennine Capó Crucet makes them sing.
“What a joy it is to read the work of a writer who has a powerful voice, a sense of humor, and a feeling for local histories. Jennine Capó Crucet’s stories start with Cuban American neighborhoods and cultures and then sail off into the direction of the great themes: love, familial bonds, aging, and death. And resurrection. This is a wonderful collection.”—Charles Baxter
“This is definitely a young writer to watch for, sassy, smart, with an unerring ear for a community’s voices, its losses, its over-the-top telenovela extravagances, and its poignant struggles to understand itself in a new land. I was glad not to have to leave Hialeah right away, but to stay long enough to hear its many stories as told by a gifted writer like Jennine Capó Crucet.”—Julia Alvarez, author, How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, In the Time of the Butterflies, and Return to Sender
“Jennine Capó Crucet is an electrifying new talent—she’s funny, she’s smart, and she knows how to tell great stories. I fell in love with this terrific collection from the first paragraph, and I was still smitten on the last page.”—Curtis Sittenfeld, author, American Wife
“Jennine Capó Crucet is an astonishing talent. This book—about Miami and Cuba and characters who live within those worlds as well as beyond them—is written with such electrifying verve and fearlessness that I wanted to squeeze the paper it was written on, jump for joy, and run around recommending it to everyone I know.”—Cristina Henríquez, author, The World in Half
“Jennine Capó Crucet is a very gifted writer. Her stories are at once uproarious, troubling, and even eerie. Hers is a bold new voice in Latina/o letters, and this debut is auspicious.”—Luis Alberto Urrea, author, The Hummingbird’s Daughter
2009 Iowa Short Fiction Award
Named a 2009 Best Book of the Year by both the Miami Herald and the Miami New Times
2010 John Gardner Award
2010 Devil's Kitchen Reading Award in Prose.