Mia Alvar In the Country: Stories

ISBN 13: 9781504646529

In the Country: Stories

 
9781504646529: In the Country: Stories

[Read by Nancy Wu and Don Castro]

A pharmacist living in New York smuggles drugs to his ailing father in Manila, only to discover alarming truths about his family and his past. A Filipina teacher drawn to a special pupil finds, to her surprise, that she is questioning her own marriage. A college student leans on her brother, a laborer in Saudi Arabia, to support her writing ambitions, without realizing that his is the life truly made for fiction. And in the title story, a journalist and a nurse face an unspeakable trauma amid the political turmoil of the Philippines in the 1970s and '80s. Deeply compassionate and richly felt, these stories mark the emergence of a formidable new writer.

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Review:

An Amazon Best Book of June 2015: Mia Alvar’s stories of the Filipino diaspora are stunning – restrained yet comprehensive in their evocation of what it means to live under martial law, in poverty, away from your family. No matter how far her Filipino characters travel – Bahrain, New York, to the prison thirty minutes down the road – and no matter how much their lives change – finer houses, nicer cars, medical degrees – home is ever present, ingrained in every action they take; for, “how ‘distant’ could the blood running through your veins be?” In the opening story, a young pharmacist returns home to care for his ailing father, smuggling drugs to help ease the pain and discovers an alarming secret about his mother. In ‘Shadow Families’ wealthy Filipina housewives in Bahrain throw parties for the working-class Filipinos because “helping these helpers, who’d traveled even farther, felt like home.” Alvar’s ‘Esmeralda’ explores the immigrant experience during 9/11 and it is exquisite, a story so real and pure that it could break your heart. In the Country is a joy to read. Mia Alvar’s writing is attentive, compassionate and filled with powerful sense of belonging – a splendid debut. --Al Woodworth

About the Author:

Mia Alvar was born in Manila in 1978 and grew up in Bahrain and New York City. She received an MFA in fiction writing from Columbia University and a BA from Harvard College. Her short fiction has appeared in One Story, The Missouri Review, FiveChapters, and The Cincinnati Review, among other publications; has been cited for distinction in The Best American Short Stories; and has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. She has received grants and residencies from Yaddo, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Blue Mountain Center, the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild, and Sarah Lawrence College. Mia is currently a writer-in-residence at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

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