cover image The Faraway World

The Faraway World

Patricia Engel. Avid Reader, $26 (224p) ISBN 978-1-9821-5952-8

Colombians and Colombian Americans experience the bittersweet vagaries of class, lies, and love in this engrossing collection from Engel (Infinite Country). In the suspenseful “Aida,” Aida’s 16-year-old twin sister, Salma, disappears from their quiet N.Y.C. suburb, which the detective on the case describes reassuringly as the opposite of “some third world country.” In the gritty “Fausto,” a security guard entices his naive lover, Paz, into being a drug mule. The enthralling “The Book of Saints” alternates perspectives to tell the story of a loveless marriage between a Colombian woman and a man from Manhattan who meets her online and who pays for her breast implants. In “Campoamor,” set in Cuba, a bleak romantic triangle complicates the narrator’s effort to leave the country. In “Libelula,” a Colombian immigrant takes a cleaning job with a wealthy Colombian family and moves into a studio share in Manhattan with another Colombian woman who works as a nanny; by the end, the story blooms into a seductive portrayal of infidelity. Engel’s alluring story lines and empathy for her characters make this a winner. (Jan.)