Benjamin Alire Sáenz's stories reveal how all borders entangle those who live on either side. Take, for instance, the Kentucky Club on Avenida Juárez two blocks south of the Rio Grande. It’s a touchstone for each of Sáenz’s stories. His characters walk by, they might go in for a drink or to score, or they might just stay there for a while and let their story be told. Sáenz knows that the Kentucky Club, like special watering holes in all cities, is the contrary to borders. It welcomes Spanish and English, Mexicans and gringos, poor and rich, gay and straight, drug addicts and drunks, laughter and sadness, and even despair. It’s a place of rich history and good drinks and cold beer and a long polished mahogany bar. Some days it smells like piss. “I’m going home to the other side.” That’s a strange statement, but you hear it all the time at the Kentucky Club.
This collection of short stories, Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club won the PEN Faulkner award for fiction in 2013, making him the first Latino to win that award.
The Espejo family of El Paso, Texas, is like so many others in America in 1967, trying to make sense of a rapidly escalating war they feel does not concern them. But when the eldest son, Gustavo, a complex and errant rebel, receives a certified letter ordering him to report to basic training, he chooses to flee instead to Mexico. Retreating back to the land of his grandfather—a foreign country to which he is no longer culturally connected—Gustavo sets into motion a series of events that will have catastrophic consequences on the fragile bonds holding the family together.
Told with raw power and searing bluntness, and filled with important themes as immediate as today’s headlines, Names on a Map is arguably the most important work to date of a major American literary artist.
From award-winning poet Benjamin Alire Sáenz comes In Perfect Light, a haunting novel depicting the cruelties of cultural displacement and the resilience of those who are left in its aftermath.
In Perfect Light is the story of two strong-willed people who are forever altered by a single tragedy. After Andés Segovia's parents are killed in a car accident when he is still a young boy, his older brother decides to steal the family away to Juárez, Mexico. That decision, made with the best intentions, sets into motion the unraveling of an American family.
Years later, his family destroyed, Andés is left to make sense of the chaos -- but he is ill-equipped to make sense of his life. He begins a dark journey toward self-destruction, his talent and brilliance brought down by the weight of a burden too frightening and maddening to bear alone. The manifestation of this frustration is a singular rage that finds an outlet in a dark and seedy El Paso bar -- leading him improbably to Grace Delgado.
Recently confronted with her own sense of isolation and mortality, Grace is an unlikely angel, a therapist who agrees to treat Andés after he is arrested in the United States. The two are suspicious of each other, yet they slowly arrive at a tentative working relationship that allows each of them to examine his and her own fragile and damaged past. Andés begins to confront what lies behind his own violence, and Grace begins to understand how she has contributed to her own self-exile and isolation. What begins as an intriguing favor to a friend becomes Grace's lifeline -- even as secrets surrounding the death of Andés' parents threaten to strain the connection irreparably.
With the urgent, unflinching vision of a true storyteller and the precise, arresting language of a poet, Sáenz's In Perfect Light bears witness to the cruelty of circumstance and, more than offering escape, the novel offers the possibility of salvation.
At seven, Gloria Santos accepts a ride with a charming stranger--and loses the only world she has ever known. Abducted and kept hidden by a respected academic for twenty long years, Gloria is raised in the shadow of her captor's dark, disturbed mind. She enters womanhood believing that life demands servitude, love means obsession, and fear is all-encompassing.
Driven to violence to free herself, Gloria is caught between a world she hates and one she does not know. Now she must find the strength to bury her twisted past--or risk losing her newfound freedom forever…
In the lyrical prose for which he is known, Benjamin Saenz offers a haunting psychological drama that examines one woman’s search for her identity and explores what it means to have freedom. The House of Forgetting is a riveting tale of abduction, lost innocence, and revenge—a page-turner in the truest sense, a novel that lingers in memory, and one that establishes Benjamin Saenz as one of the most versatile, insightful writers working today.
As an abandoned deaf mute son of Mexican migrant workers struggles as a dishwasher in El Paso, drawing solace only from his makeshift circle of friends, his sister lives an assimilated Yuppie life in San Francisco, taking great pains to keep the past buried forever. Saenz's epic tale brings to light amazing revelations about the wonders of love, family, friends, and compassion.
A collection of short stories and Benjamin Saenz’s first work of fiction.