Winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize
Finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Award
"[A] sparkling debut collection…features dreamers and schemers whose lives pulsate with wild hopes, hard luck, stunning secrets, and saving grace." —Elle
With intensity, dark humor, and emotional precision, Kirstin Valdez Quade’s unforgettable stories plunge us into the fierce, troubled hearts of characters defined by the desire to escape the past or else to plumb its depths. Set in northern New Mexico, Night at the Fiestas is a beautifully rendered debut about living in a land shaped by love, loss, and violence.
All the characters in Quade's auspicious debut collection of 10 stories live in New Mexico, but it's a tribute to her artistry that each story feels vivid and new. Quade's ability to depict an entire world within the limitations of a single story, and to produce a collection with both unity and breadth, is reminiscent of Alice Munro. In the title story, a restless girl named Frances, on the brink of adolescence, looks beyond her small world her father is a bus driver taking revelers to an annual celebration, and her older cousin Nancy wants only to drink and flirt. The opening story, "Nemecia," also involves an older female cousin, the title character, whom the narrator views with a complex mix of awe, jealousy, and fear. "The Guesthouse" brings a contentious family together on the occasion of a grandmother's funeral. In "Ordinary Sins," pregnant Crystal has tumultuous and layered relationships with a pair of priests. The final story, "The Manzanos," which focuses on grief through the eyes and mind of a young girl, is an emotional tour de force.