High Spirits by Camille Gomera-Tavarez, published by Levine Querido
I really enjoyed High Spirits by Camille Gomera-Tavarez, a debut author. In this collection of interconnected short stories, she looks at members of a family from the Dominican Republic, following their lives both in their home country and in the US.
The family tree at the start was great - it's really interesting to see how the characters in each story are connected - and I loved seeing characters I'd enjoyed reading about in one story pop up again in another, as well as the repeating themes of gender roles, legacy, and even a little magical realism. Each of the eleven stories here is short - the entire collection is under 125 pages - but they're all both thought-provoking and satisfying. Definite recommendation, and I'll be eagerly awaiting more from this lyrical author.
"Bárbaro" - Yoanson's rarely seen older brother visits him, taking him to the barber for the first time. I loved this one, with the argumentative way in which the men in the barber's shop talk about politics giving way to real empathy from Tony, the barber, as he realizes that Yoanson and his brother have different views on a suitable hairstyle, and backs up the younger boy.
"Skipping Stones" - New Yorker Ana returns to the Dominican Republic for a fuenral, and sees her friend Zahaira - but her feelings for the other girl aren't just that of friendship. This is gorgeously romantic, really impressive considering it's only about nine pages in total - it brings the two girls to life wonderfully despite its brief length.
"Domino" - Two girls desperate for money for travel to a free concert sign up for a dominoes tournament to try and win what they need. Loved how tense the final game was here!