Finalist for the Aspen Words Literary Prize
Shimmering writing depicting California’s Central Valley, the first book in a decade from a virtuoso story writer.
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 were regularly and ruthlessly rounded up by the migra, as well as the everyday 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 the men they love 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.
‘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, author of Homesickness
‘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.’
‘This is honest, unsentimental writing, light in touch and delicate in style, but nonetheless unsettling.’
— Times Literary Supplement
‘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, author of In the Country of Women and Between Heaven and Here
‘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, author of Martita, I Remember You and The House on Mango Street
‘This packs a hell of a punch.’
— Publishers Weekly
‘Nuanced, thoughtful, often moving stories.’
‘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
‘It’s such a beautiful book. The admiration I have for you is how you’re able to transcend your body as a male and as a Latino, and just be pure spirit, your pure spirit, and enter into all your characters. You’re so generous. That’s why I wished I had written those stories. So beautiful.’
— Sandra Cisneros for Orion Magazine
‘A common thread throughout the collection is the choice between kindness and cruelty, whether through violence or disregard. … This collection pushes the reader to appreciate life’s small moments of unexpected tenderness with fresh eyes.’
— Brenda Peynado, for The New York Times, and author of The Rock Eaters
‘I was struck immediately by the beauty, poise & effortless empathy of The Consequences. As one who much appreciates the art of the short story, I was filled with admiration for a writer who creates an entire world within the space of a few pages, with seeming effortlessness.’
— Joyce Carol Oates
‘Muñoz builds his stories with tenderness and immediacy, yet he is capable of filling them with concealments, desires, vulnerabilities and reconsiderations, revealing a vast and unforgettable world that takes place in a long strip of land where thousands of lives are intertwined and yet, to most, remain unknown. These ten stories confirm how good he is.’
— Corriere Della Serre