Sabrina and Corina
Fajardo-Anstine, Kali. Sabrina & Corina: Stories. One World, 2019.
Adult Fiction (short stories)
I love this book. Fajardo-Anstine’s collection of 11 short stories is masterfully written and movingly portrays the complex, vibrant, difficult and powerful lives of her southern Colorado (mostly female) characters. Her women are especially familiar to those of us who are Latinas of North American indigenous ancestry—I recognized so many details from my own life in these stories.
It’s seldom that I encounter the particulars of this Hispanic/Latinx population in contemporary fiction, and I am particularly grateful that a reading audience will more deeply understand Latinas who share both an ancient native history in North America and a more recent history of Spanish colonization, much less the reality of being an American in the 21st century. Fajardo-Anstine captures her characters’ particular heritage in passages like the following:
“One weekend, while I was staying over at Grandma Estrella’s, we baked cookies she called biscochitos…We watched Bewitched on the countertop TV, and when the episode ended Jerry Springer came on. ‘Ah, mija, I hate watching these hillbilly white people,’ Grandma Estrella said. ‘Look at this man.’ She was using a large wooden roller to point at the TV. ‘He was given every chance to make it in this world and what did he do? Threw it away on booze and drugs and can’t take care of his family. Just like your father.’”
Overall, it’s the beauty of Fajardo-Anstine’s prose that makes this book a standout. Her metaphors are quirky and stunning: “Eula Court curved like a shark’s fin from one green gully filled with trash to another.” “Faded blue tattoos winked across the backs of old men with salty hair.” “The sky was hazed with the dust of a billion stars, a black void that seemed designed, yet eternal.”
Finally, I love this story collection because so many of its women are complicated—courageous, reckless, discerning, and tough. Life knocks them over, repeatedly, and their female relatives—sisters, daughters, cousins—get caught up in the tumult or watch carefully from a quiet distance as they learn more than they need about what it is to be a women in these times.
Valerie Martinez, Director of History and Literary Arts, NHCC