The winner of the 2013 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction is Amina Gautier for her manuscript Now We Will Be Happy. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and is the author of the short story collection At-Risk (U of Georgia P), which won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. More than seventy-five of her stories have been published or are forthcoming in journals such as Antioch Review, Callaloo, Chattahoochee Review, Crazyhorse, Glimmer Train, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, North American Review, Notre Dame Review, and Southern Review, among others. Her work has received scholarships and fellowships from the Breadloaf Writer's Conference, Callaloo Writer’s Conference, Hurston/Wright Foundation, Sewanee Writer’s Conference, and others, as well as artist grants from the Illinois Arts Council and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She received her B.A. and M.A. in English Literature from Stanford University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania.
About The Book
Now We Will Be Happy is a prize-winning collection of stories about Afro-Puerto Ricans, U.S.-mainland-born Puerto Ricans, and displaced native Puerto Ricans who are living between spaces while attempting to navigate the unique culture that defines Puerto Rican identity. Amina Gautier’s characters deal with the difficulties of bicultural identities in a world that wants them to choose only one.
The characters in Now We Will Be Happy are as unpredictable as they are human. A teenage boy leaves home in search of the mother he hasn’t seen since childhood; a granddaughter is sent across the ocean to broker peace between her relatives; a widow seeks to die by hurricane; a married woman takes a bathtub voyage with her lover; a proprietress who is the glue that binds her neighborhood cannot hold on to her own son; a displaced wife develops a strange addiction to candles.
Crossing boundaries of comfort, culture, language, race, and tradition in unexpected ways, these characters struggle valiantly and doggedly to reconcile their fantasies of happiness with the realities of their existence.
"The 11 linked stories in Gautier's debut collection . . . vividly evoke Puerto Rico's intoxicating, comforting atmosphere—that unbreakable tether binding struggling people in crowded Northeastern U.S. cities to their tropical homeland. . . . Gautier captures the unique experience, and predicament, of Puerto Ricans living in the mainland U.S."—Publishers Weekly
“In these richly textured and at times heartbreaking stories, Amina Gautier forges the links between generations and across oceans. She is a builder of bridges as she strives to find that middle ground between the two islands—Manhattan and Puerto Rico—that exert their tug on her characters and shape who they are and what they become.”—Mary Morris, author of Revenge
“In these moving, dramatic stories about hunger and fullness, Amina Gautier explores what it means to strive and live in the margins of American hope. Her shrewd compassion brings together characters determined to be happy and shows the cost of happiness with vivid, rich intelligence.”—Erin McGraw, author of Better Food for a Better World.