New Book: How to Leave Hialeah

how to leave

This week the Miami Herald reviewed How to Leave Hialeah, the new book by Cuban-American writer Jennine Capó Crucet (Published by Iowa University Press).  The book won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award from the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the first time a Latina writer has been the recipient of the prize. Here are some excerpts from the review, which can be accessed through the link below.

In this collection’s title story, a Cuban mother expresses skepticism over a proposed dissertation on the exile community: “Oh please. . . . Like anyone would want to read about Hialeah.” And yet this eminently mockable city has always been awash in literary potential. All it needed was a talented young scribe to seize the initiative. Happily, the wait is over. In a debut marked by diverse range, Jennine Capó Crucet — who was born in Hialeah — lays claim to this territory. A fresh voice in American fiction, she will bear watching.

Although a few of these 11 stories bear a whiff of the workshop, they are uniformly interesting. Sex, class and the vicissitudes of identity are explored with an insider’s hard-won objectivity. Occasionally Crucet employs the second person in an apparent nod to Lorrie Moore. In lesser hands, this technique would feel self-indulgent and shopworn. Here it succeeds; theme and characterization are brought into vivid relief. Like Junot Diaz, Crucet chooses not to italicize Spanish or enclose dialogue in quotes (she prefers dashes). People who like their literature pre-chewed may complain, but Diaz’s popularity reaffirms that there is tolerance in this fallen world for a little complexity.

Crucet understands that certain things are expected of her as a Cuban-American writer. In Resurrection, she recalls a childhood encounter with a group of santeros. Alas, it lacks sensationalism. Devoting 20 pages to it would disappoint non-Latino readers, whom she chides: “You wanted chicken blood, people wearing burlap, goats maybe, statues eating fruit and drinking bottles of beer. You want zombies.” Tongue firmly in cheek, she gives them what they want and even throws in Celia Cruz.

For the complete review go to

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