These nine globe-trotting, unforgettable stories from Mia Alvar, a remarkable new literary talent, vividly give voice to the women and men of the Filipino diaspora. Here are exiles, emigrants, and wanderers uprooting their families from the Philippines to begin new lives in the Middle East, the United States, and elsewhere—and, sometimes, turning back again.
A pharmacist living in New York smuggles drugs to his ailing father in Manila, only to discover alarming truths about his family and his past. In Bahrain, a Filipina teacher drawn to a special pupil finds, to her surprise, that she is questioning her own marriage. A college student leans on her brother, a laborer in Saudi Arabia, to support her writing ambitions, without realizing that his is the life truly made for fiction. And in the title story, a journalist and a nurse face an unspeakable trauma amidst the political turmoil of the Philippines in the 1970s and ’80s.
In the Country speaks to the heart of everyone who has ever searched for a place to call home. From teachers to housemaids, from mothers to sons, Alvar’s powerful debut collection explores the universal experiences of loss, displacement, and the longing to connect across borders both real and imagined. Deeply compassionate and richly felt, In the Country marks the emergence of a formidable new writer.
Mia Alvar’s collection of short stories, In the Country, won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, the University of Rochester’s Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, and the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award.
Mia has been a writer in residence at the Corporation of Yaddo, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the Blue Mountain Center for the Arts. She has received fellowships from the Sewanee, Bread Loaf, and Sirenland Writers’ Conferences. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, One Story, The Missouri Review, the Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere.
Born in the Philippines and raised in Bahrain and the United States, Mia graduated from Harvard College and the School of the Arts at Columbia University. She lives in Santa Monica, California.