cover image Night at the Fiestas

Night at the Fiestas

Kirstin Valdez Quade. Norton, $25.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-393-24298-0

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. Agent: Denise Shannon, Denise Shannon Literary Agency. (Mar.)