Voices of the Latin American diaspora
In ‘The Faraway World,’ Patricia Engel compiles 10 short stories set across the Americas and linked by themes of migration, sacrifice, and moral compromise
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Born to Colombian parents, Patricia Engel is a graduate of New York University and earned her MFA at Florida International University. In 2021, she published Infinite Country, a heartbreaking portrait of a Colombian family dealing with the realities of migration and separation, which immediately became a New York Times Bestseller.
Two years later, Engel, currently an Associate Professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Miami, published The Faraway World, a collection of 10 short stories set across the Americas and linked by themes of migration, sacrifice, and moral compromise. Almost all the characters are part of the Latin American diaspora and are searching for something more in their lives.
Two Colombian expats meet as strangers on the rainy streets of New York City, both burdened with traumatic pasts. In Cuba, a woman discovers her deceased brother’s bones have been stolen, and the love of her life returns from Ecuador for a one-night visit. A cash-strapped couple hustles in Miami, to life-altering ends.
“[All these stories] are connected by this — the motivating force for change, desire and the ever-changing conditions of identity and movements and changing geography and landscape and diaspora. Those are things that I explore in all my writing, and it's something that I explore in my life,” she told NPR in a recent interview.
Asked about how her own story as the daughter of immigrants influences her writing, she answered that what all migrants have in common is "that loss of homeland."
"All the doubts and the longing and wondering if you made the right decision in disrupting your family history and leaving your homeland to begin a new life in another one," she told NPR.
The Faraway World is Engel’s second story collection, in addition to three novels. Some of them are translated into Spanish.