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The Consequences: Stories (Paperback)
Winner of the 2023 Joyce Carol Oates Prize
Finalist for the 2023 Aspen Words Literary Prize
Longlisted for the 2022 Story Prize
Shimmering stories set in California’s Central Valley, the first book in a decade from a virtuoso story writer.
“Her immediate concern was money.” So begins the first story in Manuel Muñoz’s dazzling new collection. In it, Delfina has moved from Texas to California’s Central Valley with her husband and small son, and her isolation and desperation force her to take a risk that ends in profound betrayal.
These exquisite stories are mostly set in the 1980s in the small towns that surround Fresno. With an unflinching hand, Muñoz depicts the Mexican and Mexican American farmworkers who put food on our tables but are regularly and ruthlessly rounded up by the migra, as well as the quotidian struggles and immense challenges faced by their families. The messy and sometimes violent realities navigated by his characters—straight and gay, immigrant and American-born, young and old—are tempered by moments of surprising, tender care: Two young women meet on a bus to Los Angeles to retrieve husbands who must find their way back from the border after being deported; a gay couple plans a housewarming party that reveals buried class tensions; a teenage mother slips out to a carnival where she encounters the father of her child; the foreman of a crew of fruit pickers finds a dead body and is subsequently—perhaps literally—haunted.
In The Consequences, obligation can shape, support, and sometimes derail us. It’s a magnificent new book from a gifted writer at the height of his powers.
“Muñoz’s prose is shining and hypnotic, and suffused with care and tenderness. This is one of the best short story collections to come around in recent years.”—Michael Schaub, NPR.org, Best Books of 2022
“Hauntingly simple. . . . In these surprising, vivid stories, worries are deeply felt but not often spoken aloud, and obligation to kin and the need to survive outweigh much else.”—The Atlantic, “10 Most Thought-Provoking Books of 2022”
“This collection pushes the reader to appreciate life’s small moments of unexpected tenderness with fresh eyes.”—Brenda Peynado, New York Times Book Review
“The fact that a mind as fine and compassionate as Muñoz’s exists lifts me up.”—George Saunders
“Gay, straight, American-born or American-dreaming, the characters in this collection exist on the verge of oblivion, but the book out-Steinbecks Steinbeck in its manifestation of the human in places we too rarely dare look.”—Oprah Daily
“Simply put, Muñoz’s stories are as observant as they are revealing — full of nuanced subtext and bracingly honest depictions of vulnerability and hope, love and regret, and everything in between. They deserve all the attention they can get.”—Alexis Burling, San Francisco Chronicle
“Muñoz brings tenderness and immediacy to these fully realised stories of secrets and concealment, longings, vulnerability, and imperfect escape, creating an expansive and memorable world.”—David Hayden, The Guardian
“Muñoz’s luminous story collection . . . portrays a community of Mexican and Mexican American farmworkers in California’s Central Valley. . . . Their daily difficulties are tenderly laid bare. . . . Muñoz once worked in the same fields, as did his parents and siblings, and his empathetic stories convey a realistic sense of the toll such labor takes on bodies and minds.”—Becky Meloan, The Washington Post
“Manuel Muñoz’s third story collection solidifies his position as a master of the short story. The Consequences offers insights not just into relationships in families, neighborhoods, and communities, but among strangers who meet on a bus and come together to share the struggles of 21st-century immigrant life.”—Jane Ciabattari, Lit Hub
“Nuanced, thoughtful, often moving stories.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“...Muñoz delivers breathtaking views into his characters’ hardscrabble world, and evokes the heat of their yearning. This packs a hell of a punch.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Lucid and elegantly written, The Consequences tells the stories of characters who ache for one another or for ephemeral moments of release; who ache — bodily — from a life spent harvesting the sweetness that will grace other tables.”—Los Angeles Times
“Full of nuance and heart, Muñoz’s writing is honest and unforgettable, marking him as a master storyteller.”—Electric Literature, “Favorite Story Collections of 2022”
“Muñoz’s writing quietly dazzles with its unforced, patient, and lyrical lines.”—Erin Douglass, Christian Science Monitor
“Haunting, powerful, humble, precise, this collection shook my being. Manuel Muñoz is a great American writer who sees with his heart—as great as Juan Rulfo in writing about the poor. I wish I had written these stories.”—Sandra Cisneros
“These stories are evanescent, unforgettable, taking us deep into California’s Central Valley, the homeland Manuel Muñoz has for years given to the world as a place of glimmering mystery, tule fog, and the yearning of his characters for love and absolution. Each story reveals an entire life. Muñoz is one of the best writers working in America.”—Susan Straight
“Manuel Muñoz’s stories are melancholy, assured, and unforgettable. Like a porch light at midnight, they strike a circle of stark dreamlike clarity around their characters, even as the darkness gathers in.”—Colin Barrett
“I envy that I didn’t write these stories myself. . . . [Manuel Muñoz] really just did his highest work, his genius highest work. And I’m in admiration.”—Sandra Cisneros, The Independent