Sabrina & Corina
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • Latinas of Indigenous descent living in the American West take center stage in this haunting debut story collection—a powerful meditation on friendship, mothers and daughters, and the deep-rooted truths of our homelands.
“Here are stories that blaze like wildfires, with characters who made me laugh and broke my heart.”—Sandra Cisneros
WINNER OF THE AMERICAN BOOK AWARD • FINALIST FOR THE STORY PRIZE • FINALIST FOR THE PEN/ROBERT W. BINGHAM PRIZE FOR DEBUT SHORT STORY COLLECTION
Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s magnetic story collection breathes life into her Latina characters of indigenous ancestry and the land they inhabit in the American West. Against the remarkable backdrop of Denver, Colorado—a place that is as fierce as it is exquisite—these women navigate the land the way they navigate their lives: with caution, grace, and quiet force.
In “Sugar Babies,” ancestry and heritage are hidden inside the earth but tend to rise during land disputes. “Any Further West” follows a sex worker and her daughter as they leave their ancestral home in southern Colorado only to find a foreign and hostile land in California. In “Tomi,” a woman leaves prison and finds herself in a gentrified city that is a shadow of the one she remembers from her childhood. And in the title story, “Sabrina & Corina,” a Denver family falls into a cycle of violence against women, coming together only through ritual.
Sabrina & Corina is a moving narrative of unrelenting feminine power and an exploration of the universal experiences of abandonment, heritage, and an eternal sense of home.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Public Library • Kirkus Reviews • Library Journal
“Sabrina & Corina isn’t just good, it’s masterful storytelling. Fajardo-Anstine is a fearless writer: her women are strong and scarred witnesses of the violations of their homelands, their culture, their bodies; her plots turn and surprise, unerring and organic in their comprehensiveness; her characters break your heart, but you keep on going because you know you are in the hands of a master. Her stories move through the heart of darkness and illuminate it with the soul of truth.”—Julia Alvarez, author of How the García Girls Lost Their Accents
“[A] powerhouse debut . . . stylistically superb, with crisp dialogue and unforgettable characters, Sabrina & Corina introduces an impressive new talent to American letters.”—Rigoberto González, NBC News
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Reports of the death of the modern short story have always been exaggerated, but Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s sparkling and intimate tales breathe new life into the form. Set against the literal and cultural landscapes of the American West, these stories center on Latina women searching for dignity and love despite the poverty and pain life offers them. For all their specificity, Fajardo-Anstine’s characters—a jaded schoolgirl secretly yearning for the glamorous mother who left her; a woman scarred by a violent lover, who returns home to her similarly scarred mother—seem universal, giving voice to every woman in a world stacked against her. We were completely wowed by this debut collection of fierce, heartbreaking, and perfectly constructed stories.
In Fajardo-Anstine's beautiful debut collection, set largely in Denver, Colo., she dexterously explores what it means to be Latina, indigenous, and female in ways both touching and powerful. In "Sugar Babies," readers meet sixth grader Sierra, who grows uncomfortable in her home economics class when she is forced to partner with a male student and care for a infant bag of sugar a "sugar baby." With a mother who keeps leaving her and her father, Sierra emotionally breaks down when her sugar baby dies, exposing years of pent up anger and grief at her lost mother. In the title story, Corina struggles with the murder of her cousin at the hands of her latest abusive boyfriend, as she, a new cosmetology student, agrees to prepare the body for the family funeral. Fajardo-Anstine's women also contend with racism, sexism, and loss of cultural identity. In "Sisters," Doty wants more than just to become a white man's "little Spanish girl" like her sister aspires to be, choosing instead to explore her attraction to women. In "Ghost Sickness," a college student, Ana, struggles in a history course that has overwritten the original Navajo and Pueblo people's history with the history of white, European conquest. These stories are stirring meditations on the lives of Latinas of indigenous ancestry; Fajardo-Anstine's collection is vividly alive with the love and pain of its characters, while echoing with the spiritual power of their pasts.
This collection of short stories was a work of art. The protagonists were beautiful and real. The narration makes you feel like you’re right in Denver. It was great to see stories about Latinas that didn’t take place in NYC, Miami, or LA