Now We Will Be Happy

Amina Gautier. Univ. of Nebraska, $16.95 (128p) ISBN 978-0-8032-5539-5
The 11 linked stories in Gautier’s debut collection, which won the 2013 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, vividly evoke Puerto Rico’s intoxicating, comforting atmosphere—that unbreakable tether binding struggling people in crowded Northeastern U.S. cities to their tropical homeland. “Bodega,” “Only Son,” and “Palabras” feature a couple in search of a better life who move to Brooklyn and run a corner deli, only to have their only son return to his birthplace. “Now We Will Be Happy” and “Muñeca,” meanwhile, depict the abusive marriage of the couple who live next door. Other tales, such as “Aguanile” and “How to Make Flan,” consider multigenerational rifts such as that between a woman and her grandfather, whose only communication with her consists of calling to tell her when one of his favorite musicians—Charlie Palmieri or Héctor Lavoe—has died. Throughout, food and music function as valuable if fragile bridges between otherwise disconnected people. Gautier captures the unique experience, and predicament, of Puerto Ricans living in the mainland U.S. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/21/2014
Release date: 09/01/2014
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