2007 Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction
The stories in this prize-winning collection evoke a complete world, one so richly imagined and finely realized that the stories themselves are not so much read as experienced. The world of these stories is Portuguese-American, redolent of incense and spices, resonant with ritual and prayer, immersed in the California culture of freeway and commerce. Lacked with lyrical prose and vivid detail, acclaimed writer Katherine Vaz conjures a captivating blend of Old World heritage and New World culture to explore the links between families, friends, strangers, and their world.
From the threat of a serial killer as the background for a young girl’s first brush with death to the fallout of a modern-day visitation from the Virgin Mary; from an AIDS-stricken squatter refusing to vacate an empty Lisbon home to a mother’s yearlong struggle with the death of her synesthetic daughter, these deft stories make their world ours.
Praise for Our Lady of the Artichokes and Other Portuguese-American Stories:
“Vaz is a soulful writer who understands her protagonists’ complex lives, as well as the way religious beliefs can assert themselves most powerfully after leaving native soil.”
“In Katherine Vaz’s new volume of short fiction, she demonstrates brilliantly that rare quality of truly fine writing—a deeply profound knowingness about the human condition. Our Lady of the Artichokes and Other Portuguese-American Stories will even more widely prove what is already clear to many: Katherine Vaz is a master of the short story.”
—Robert Olen Butler, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
“Katherine Vaz is an old-fashioned storyteller in the best sense. Her work is sensual, rich in detail and layered history. Her stories overflow with incident and feeling. Other writers present fruit plates. Vaz serves cornucopias.”
—Allegra Goodman, author of Intuition and Kaaterskill Falls
“Katherine Vaz captures brilliantly the tragicomedy of people caught between ancient superstitions and modern values, people longing to cross over from one culture to another, from loneliness to love, from folly to grace. Her stories glow with a fairy-tale magic, yet they also feel uniquely and delightfully new.”
—Julia Glass, author of Three Junes and The Whole World Over