Winner of the 2016 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction

Winner of the 2015 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award

Finalist for the 2015 National Book Critics’ Circle/John Leonard Prize for Best Debut

A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice

An American Library Association Notable Book

Long-listed for the 2015 Story Prize

One of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2015

One of Amazon’s Top 100 Books of 2015

One of The Huffington Post’s 18 Best Fiction Books of 2015

One of BuzzFeed’s 24 Best Fiction Books of 2015

One of Kirkus Reviews’ Best of 2015

One of The San Francisco Chronicle‘s 100 Best Books of 2015

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.


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