In Lucho, Sabina s familyalready foreigners in a town of blancos is shunned by the community when a relative commits an unspeakable act of violence, but she is in turn befriended by the town bad boy who has a secret of his own; in Desaliento, Sabina surrounds herself with other young drifters who spend their time looking for love and then fleeing from ituntil reality catches up with one of them; and in Vida, the urgency of Sabina s self-imposed exile in Miami fades when she meets an enigmatic Colombian woman with a tragic past.
Patricia Engel maps landscapes both actual and interior in this stunning debut, and the constant throughout is Sabinaserious, witty, alternately cautious and reckless, open to transformation yet skeptical of its lasting power. Infused by a hard-won, edgy wisdom, "Vida" introduces a sensational new literary voice."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2010-07-05
- Reviewer: Staff
Engel navigates issues of class, ethnicity, and identity with finesse in her debut collection, linked stories about Sabina, a child of Colombian immigrants who grows up in New Jersey before heading off to find work and love in Miami. "Diego was this guy that I met on Washington Avenue at three in the morning the summer I quit my job at the art gallery," the 23-year-old Sabina says in her typically understated voice in "Desaliento," a story about how dallying with the handsome Argentinean hustler seems glamorous and subversive. In "Lucho," Sabina, still in high school where her family is considered "spics, in a town of blancos," a neighbor boy with a rough past is the only one who pays attention to her. In the title story, Sabina, working in Miami, befriends an illegal Colombian immigrant who reveals a tale of being sold to a Miami brothel owner and later being "rescued" by the brothel's guard, now her boyfriend. Engel's prose is refreshingly devoid of pomp and puts a hard focus on the stiff compromises Sabina and her family have had to accept; there's a striking perspective to these stories. (Sept.)