Details

ISBN-10: 0872868826
ISBN-13: 9780872868823
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publish Date: 05/17/2022
Dimensions: 7.70" L, 5.00" W, 0.40" H

Published by City Lights

Family Album: Stories

Translator: Dick Cluster
Translator: Mary Ellen Fieweger

Paperback

Price: $15.95 $11.17

Overview

Family Album is Ecuadorian author Gabriela Alemán’s rollicking follow-up to her acclaimed English-language debut, Poso Wells.

Alemán is known for her spirited and sardonic take on the fatefully interconnected–and often highly compromised–forces at work in present-day South America, and particularly in Ecuador. In this collection of eight hugely entertaining short stories, she teases tropes of hardboiled detective fiction, satire, and adventure narratives to recast the discussion of national identity. A muddy brew of pop-culture and pop-folklore yields intriguing, lesser-known episodes of contemporary Ecuadorian history, along with a rich cast of unforgettable characters whose intimate stories open up onto a vista of Ecuador’s place on the world stage.

From a pair of deep-sea divers using Robinson Crusoe’s map of a shipwreck to locate sunken treasure in the Galápagos Archipelago, to a night with the husband of Ecuador’s most infamous expat, Lorena Bobbitt, this series of cracked “family portraits” provides a cast of picaresque heroes and anti-heroes in stories that sneak up on a reader before they know what’s happened: they’ve learned a great deal about a country whose more well known exports–soccer, coffee and cocoa–mask an intriguing national story that’s ripe for the telling.

One of The Millions Most Anticipated Books for 2022!

“Ecuadorian writer Alemán’s sparkling collection (after the novel Poso Wells) brims with humor and adventure.”–Publishers Weekly

“Plays with tropes ranging from the Robinson Crusoe story to the classic betrayed-wife setup to wrestle with the impossible-to-decode oddness of human life, which old stories can only hide for so long.”–Lily Meyer, NPR

“It takes a rare and talented writer to create a cast of characters who each feel so unique, distinct, and whose stories unravel unexpectedly while also feeling inevitable, exactly right. Thoughtful and subversive, with Family Album, Alemán has given us a gift.”–Jean Kyoung Frazier, author of Pizza Girl

“Divers, adventurers, wrestlers, athletes: a diverse array of people come to light in these stories to insist again and again in challenging the weight of the written letter. Gabriela Alemán’s stories inhabit the past to work through its possible versions. Her characters understand that History is a form of desire and the truth is not a house but a patina covering a place that has ceased to exist.”–Yuri Herrera, author of A Silent Fury: The El Bordo Mine Fire

“Gabriela Alemán’s stories unravel a rich and intriguing universe in which nothing, and no one, is what it seems.”Pilar Quintana, author of The Bitch

“These stories are like lizards lying on rocks in the sun. When you try to pick one up it darts away and disappears. Sometimes a tail comes off in your hand or the thing bites your fingers and drops of blood decorate the rock. Best read while listening to Julio Jaramillo sing ‘Amor sin Esperanza’ and ‘Hojas Muertas.'”Barry Gifford, author of Sailor & Lula: The Complete Novels

Gabriela Alemán writes beautiful, sly, enigmatic stories originating in a rogues gallery of real life legends, including El Santo and John Wayne Bobbitt, as well as lesser known and invented souls, all of them struggling against the silent–or is it hostile?–backdrop of Ecuador’s past and present. Family Album is a mordantly funny and haunting collection.”–Zachary Lazar, author of Vengeance

Read More
In The News
  • Reviewed at NPR!
  • One of The Millions Most Anticipated Books for May!
  • Read a conversation with the author and translators at the Southwest Review
  • Reviewed by Publishers Weekly
  • Reviewed by Shelf Awareness
  • Featured on Book Riot
  • Read an excerpt at On the Seawall
  • View Gabriela Alemán’s City Lights LIVE! virtual book launch
  • View Gabriela Alemán’s New Orleans book launch held in person at Octavia Bookstore
  • View Gabriela Aleman’s virtual event at Powells, Portland, OR
  • View Gabriela Aleman’s virtual event at Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington DC
  • Read an interview on the City Lights blog
  • Read an excerpt at LitHub

 

More In The News
Reviews

Praise for Family Album by Gabriela Alemán

"In this collection of short stories, the gifted Ecuadorian author, Gabriela Alemán, offers up a fierce and funny family album of present-day South America, particularly Ecuador. From scuba divers hunting for treasure to a reporter's search for the secret of a famous Mexican wrestler and a baroness who settles on one of the Galapagos Islands in the 1930s, the characters in these stories are a fascinatingly endless range of humanity that Alemán writes, and Dick Cluster and Mary Ellen Fieweger translate, with wit and grace."–Pierce Alquist, Book Riot
"Family Album, from award-winning author Gabriela Alemán, is a shrewd, beguiling collection. In eight genre-defying stories, the Brazil-born, Ecuador-based Alemán deftly confronts push-button topics like colonialism, identity and religion."–Terry Hong, Smithsonian Book Dragon

"Memorable characters abound in Family Album, a collection of eight witty, compact, and highly entertaining stories by Gabriela Alemán, translated by Dick Cluster and Mary Ellen Fieweger."–David Conrads, The Christian Science Monitor

"Gabriela Alemán writes with a tender but glass-hard touch: There's a fierce honesty to those tales, a surprise in each, and a dizzying sense of wonder on completing each one."–Achy Obejas, author of Boomerang / Bumerán: Poetry / Poesía (Raised Voices)

"This collection of short stories from Alemán gives color and texture to the tapestry of the Ecuadorian experience. Albeit short, these stories give her characters enough room to maneuver to elicit empathy, melancholy, and a little bit of laughter from her readers. From murderous spies to treasure hunters literally way out of their depth and from luchador movie stars to an American about to discover that the Amazon is not to be trifled with, these stories confirm Alemán's talent and her status as one of the ambassadors of Ecuadorian literature."Bennard Fajardo, Politics and Prose, Washington DC

"Alemán's eclectic short stories left traces that unexpectedly popped up and demanded my attention again: why this, how that? The stories meander around Ecuador to places where mysteries may be solved or deepened, where curiosity may be rewarded and lack of curiosity punished, and where characters range from kind to cruel, outlandish to simple, but always one-of-a-kind."–Kay Wosewick, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

"This short story collection is broken up into snapshots found in your typical family photo album (i.e. vacation, marriage, summer). My favorites include: scuba divers search for pirate treasure; a scandalous German baroness who settles on one of the Galapagos Islands in the 1930's; a recently widowed woman discovers her late husband's double life; and a reporter's search for the closely held secret of a famous Mexican wrestler. The stories are written in a variety of genres and show that you have to look under the surface to see the real Ecuador. This book is dark, mysterious, funny, and occasionally creepy–everything I love in modern literature."–Amy Walterscheid, Powell's Books, Portland, OR

"We never know for sure what Gabriela Alemán's characters are up to. Intrigue, deception, and seduction are right around the corner. Maybe this is because the worlds Alemán creates–at once explicit and evocative–are contested terrain, never solid ground. There, broken souls contend with noble ones in search of new lives, for History seems to have left them all in its wake. Approach these stories with caution: the pervasive underground voices that drive the characters will take the reader prisoner as well."–Rodrigo Fuentes, author of Trout, Belly Up

"I am stunned by Gabriela Alemán's ability to shift the settings of her stories, transform the textures of her prose, and populate her narrative with such a variety of characters. Family Album is a compendium of all the writers who coexist inside her. I still don't know how she manages to be so good in so many different ways."–Antonio García Ángel, author of Su Casa Es Mi Casa

"Gabriela Alemán knows that the best way to depict the extended family of the nation is to include everyone from the heroic grandparents to the outcast aunts and uncles and the lost cousins. In her stories we discover an Ecuador more complex and diverse than the one we knew before. This is a magnificent book to enter the universe of this indispensable author."–Edmundo Paz Soldán, author of Turing´s Delirium

"Gabriela Alemán's stories pack all the intrigue of a novel into just a few short scenes. 'Summer Vacation, ' set on the ever-mysterious Galapagos off the coast of Ecuador, is a haunting tale that you'll want to read with the lights on–and to check over your shoulder after you turn the final page." –Karen Abbott, author of The Ghosts of Eden Park

"Gabriela Alemán takes us through the back alleys of Ecuador's cultural imagination, conjuring up buccaneers and baronesses, luchador movie stars, Biddy Basketball Leagues, and someone named Lorena Bobbitt. The stories in Family Album are dark, witty, and beautifully strange. Reading Alemán is like trying to touch the seabed with your toes: the depths of her craft are seemingly endless."–Stephan Sebastian Herrera, 2021 PEN Emerging Voices Fellow

"It's no easy feat to convey the gamut of human experience in any single text, yet Family Album does just that: the writing enthralls its reader with beautifully executed portraits of the human race in all its indignity, desire, rage, and poignancy. Alemán crafts her stories with the touch of an ultimate seeker."–Eugenie Dalland, editor of Riot of Perfume Magazine

"A fresh, vibrant, and original look at a fascinating part of the world that few of us here in the United States know much about."–Dalt Wonk, author of French Quarter Fables

"Gabriela Alemán's mesmerizing prose takes us places we've never been to meet and understand people whose lives on the margins of society she depicts with profound psychological acuity and compassion."–Josephine Sacabo, author of Structures of Reverie

Praise for Poso Wells by Gabriela Alemán

"Poso Wells is ironic, audacious, and fierce. But what is it, exactly? A satire? A scifi novel? A political detective yarn? Or the purest reality of contemporary Latin America. It's unclassifiable–as all great books are."–Samanta Schweblin, author of Fever Dream

"One part Thomas Pynchon, one part Gabriel García Marquez, and one part Raymond Chandler, Alemán's novel contains mystery, horror, humor, absurdity, and political commentary . . . A concoction of political thriller and absurdist literary mystery that never fails to entertain."–Kirkus Reviews

"The story is a condemnation not only of the corrupt businessmen and the criminal gangs that rule Poso Wells but also of the violence against women that plagues Latin America's real slums."–The New Yorker

"Poso Wells is an intriguing name for a thrilling novel of politics, environmental destruction and wildly imaginative occurrences that slide right to the edge of reality. The landscape includes the threatened rape of a cloud forest, a collection of fantastical blind heroes, and a presidential candidate who pees himself to death on stage. The English translation is fast and clear as the story rolls towards its ending on a steaming volcano. The first English translation of noted Brazilian-Ecuadorian novelist, Gabriela Alemán. I hope that many more follow."–Stephen Williams, author of Blockchain: The Next Everything

More Reviews

Details

ISBN-10: 0872868826
ISBN-13: 9780872868823
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publish Date: 05/17/2022
Dimensions: 7.70" L, 5.00" W, 0.40" H
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