With all the controversy surrounding Cuba and Juanes right now (I stand very much in support of what he’s trying to do, by the way), it seems appropriate to highlight a book by a promising new literary voice. Jennine Capo Crucet, born to Cuban exile parents and raised in Miami, has already received praise from the likes of Luis Alberto Urrea (The Hummingbird’s Daughter); Cristina Henriquez (The World In Half); and Julia Alvarez (In The Time of the Butterflies) for her debut How to Leave Hialeah. Her freshman effort is a short story collection shaped by a certain Cuban neighborhood in South Florida and covering larger themes of love, familial bonds, aging and death.
Capo Crucet is actually the first Latina to win the John Simmons Short Fiction Award. I always enjoy short fiction because when my free time is limited, I don’t have to commit to any one book. There’s always a pile of books on my nightstand. I often stare at them, with that feeling you get when you haven’t had any closure but are forced to move on to the next (urgent) thing.
With a book like this, I can open it up whenever I come around to it, and choose a story that’ll offer me a beginning, a middle, and an end. There’s something very satisfying about that.