This debut collection centers on Latina women living in Colorado, where their work is endless—from clocking in at Macy’s to kneading masa for fresh tortillas to trying to survive the men in their lives. These are stories of abandonment, addiction, and violence, but loss is the thread that connects each character to the last, as they reckon with the ghosts who have haunted their families for generations. Some of these stories will make you want to look away, but the stunning prose makes this book impossible to put down.
Latinas of Indigenous descent living in the American West take center stage in this haunting debut story collection—a powerful meditation on friendship, mothers and daughters, and the deep-rooted truths of our homelands.
“Here are stories that blaze like wildfires, with characters who made me laugh and broke my heart.”—Sandra Cisneros
Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s magnetic story collection breathes life into her Latina characters of indigenous ancestry and the land they inhabit in the American West. Against the remarkable backdrop of Denver, Colorado—a place that is as fierce as it is exquisite—these women navigate the land the way they navigate their lives: with caution, grace, and quiet force.
In “Sugar Babies,” ancestry and heritage are hidden inside the earth but tend to rise during land disputes. “Any Further West” follows a sex worker and her daughter as they leave their ancestral home in southern Colorado only to find a foreign and hostile land in California. In “Tomi,” a woman leaves prison and finds herself in a gentrified city that is a shadow of the one she remembers from her childhood. And in the title story, “Sabrina & Corina,” a Denver family falls into a cycle of violence against women, coming together only through ritual.
Sabrina & Corina is a moving narrative of unrelenting feminine power and an exploration of the universal experiences of abandonment, heritage, and an eternal sense of home.
Praise for Sabrina & Corina
“Sabrina & Corina isn’t just good, it’s masterful storytelling. Fajardo-Anstine is a fearless writer: her women are strong and scarred witnesses of the violations of their homelands, their culture, their bodies; her plots turn and surprise, unerring and organic in their comprehensiveness; her characters break your heart, but you keep on going because you know you are in the hands of a master. Her stories move through the heart of darkness and illuminate it with the soul of truth.”—Julia Alvarez, author of How the García Girls Lost Their Accents
“[A] powerhouse debut . . . stylistically superb, with crisp dialogue and unforgettable characters, Sabrina & Corina introduces an impressive new talent to American letters.”—Rigoberto González, NBC News
“A terrific collection of stories—fiercely and beautifully made.” —Joy Williams
About the Author
Kali Fajardo-Anstine is from Denver, Colorado. Her fiction has appeared in The American Scholar, Boston Review, Bellevue Literary Review, The Idaho Review, Southwestern American Literature, and elsewhere. Fajardo-Anstine has received fellowships from MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and Hedgebrook. She received her MFA from the University of Wyoming and has lived across the country from Durango, Colorado, to Key West, Florida.
“Fierce and essential stories . . . Feminine agency, legacy and kinship . . . govern the hearts of every character in this book.”—The New York Times
“Here are stories that blaze like wildfires, with characters who made me laugh and broke my heart, believable in everything they said and did. How tragic that American letters hasn’t met these women of the West before, women who were here before America was America. And how tragic that these working-class women haven’t seen themselves in the pages of American lit before. Thank you for honoring their lives, Kali. I welcome them and you.”—Sandra Cisneros
“In the eleven stories of Sabrina & Corina, Fajardo-Anstine writes a love letter to the Chicanas of her homeland—women as unbreakable as the mountains that run through Colorado and as resilient as the arid deserts that surround it. . . . In her fierce, bold stories, these women—and she—are seen, and heard, and made known; the collection is both a product of pain and a celebration of survival. . . . Like the woman on Sabrina & Corina’s cover, the hearts of these characters are exposed but intact. Fajardo-Anstine's heart is there on the page, too, beating with the blood of her ancestors.”—Bustle
“Sabrina & Corina summons a world we hardly recognize, but should. . . . Fajardo-Anstine can make a story smell of sickness. She can make legend of malediction. Conjuring the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and unfurling the Denver skyline, there is no limit to what Fajardo-Anstine can manifest on paper and, subsequently, in our dreams. Yet, what is most admirable is the courage of her hand. She’s unafraid to delve into areas of race, feminism, queerness, and class. She interrogates whiteness, and its associations like passing and colorism, prodding unapologetically.”—Electric Literature
“[A] beautiful collection.” —HelloGiggles
“[An] engrossing collection of tales . . . Stories that bravely reinvent the Wild West narrative by lifting up Latinx women and portraying callused hand cowboys not as heroes, but as villains and perpetrators of violence.”—Latino Book Review
“You will clutch your heart reading Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s short story collection. Her stories are that heartbreaking, each one like a gift from a small child, offered with earnest, luminous eyes, innocence itself, impossible to reject. . . . Go find yourself a copy of this thrilling, touching, beautiful book.”—New York Journal of Books
“In [Sabrina & Corina] we find a different narrative of the West. These are women who inhabit a space between the Indigenous and the Latinx; they are fierce [and] powerful in their own way.”—Brooklyn Rail
“Kali Fajardo-Anstine writes about hard truths in women’s lives so knowingly, and with such a deft touch, I felt hyper-alert, as well as implicated and imperiled. The book is about belief, coping, yearning, and proceeding in spite of adversity (that is, the times we stay alive). The final act of the first story tells us everything we need to know about what territory we’ll be entering: In these achingly convincing stories, the writer is writing delicately, symbolically, about mortality itself.”—Ann Beattie