Best Book by a Local Author (2010)

"How to Leave Hialeah," by Jennine Capó Crucet

Jennine Capó Crucet burst onto the literary scene last year with a voice as fresh and welcome as a whiff of strong Cuban espresso. In her debut collection of stories, fathers spend weekends under their cars, aunts parade like the pope in their new sedans, girls meet predate disaster while removing facial hair, and the parish church is not haunted by Catholic saints or even Yoruban deities but by that patron saint of working-class Cubans, Celia Cruz. The 11 stories in How to Leave Hialeah offer a funny, touching portrayal of growing up in two worlds: one inhabited by working-class exiles tied to the past, the other by their pill-poppin', hard-rockin' offspring. That the universally recognizable characters happen to be Cubans living in Hialeah makes the stories all the more familiar. (You can hear the shuffle of dominoes and smell the fumes on the Palmetto Expressway.) Capó Crucet took off a decade ago for the Ivy League and now lives with her husband in L.A. But don't believe the title. In her heart, she never left.


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