Press & Praise


“Through her talent for storytelling, Alvar creates a bond between the reader and her characters that keeps us with them, makes us cheer for them, and makes us hope that they get what they need and want.” —Samantha Pak, Northwest Asian Weekly

“[W]hile the collection would be worth reading simply for the opportunity to explore the less often heard voices of the Filipino diaspora, her prose is intense and vivid, haunting…there’s a certain universality in Alvar’s writing that will resonate with anyone who’s moved elsewhere for economic purposes.” —Melanie Ho, The Asian Review of Books

“A breathtaking debut from a breakout talent, as unforgettable as the places [Alvar has] been.” —Ruel S. De Vera, The Philippine Daily Inquirer

“Alvar’s nine deft, confident stories full of morally complicated characters and rich, unfaltering prose have all the marks of an author who has arrived at a distinctive voice.” —Maggie Zebracka, The Masters Review

“Meticulous and beautiful. Without a doubt, these are excellent stories.” —Roxane Gay, The Barnes & Noble Review

“Alvar’s prose satisfies… It’s the author’s narrative ability—her power to surprise and weave thoughtful, intricate stories—that keeps you reading. Her writing both memorializes and celebrates the lives of anyone who has ever suffered—that is to say, of us all.” —Alina Cohen, The Rumpus

“Alvar’s stories feel as richly imagined as any novel; like Alice Munro, she can convey an entire life in only a few pages.—Laurie Muchnick, Kirkus Reviews

Debut story collections don’t come much better than this… Right from the opening tale, “The Kontrabida,” you feel you’re in expert hands.—Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times

“Nine stories, all of them so smoothly and successfully realized that it seems incredible that this volume is her fiction debut.” —Steve Donoghue, The Christian Science Monitor

“Alvar is gifted… She knows how to make the reader pause, and think deeply, feel. And hunger, as I am already, for more.” —Earl Pike, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Each of In the Country‘s nine stories about the Filipino diaspora has the satisfying heft of a little novel.” —Amy Gentry, The Chicago Tribune

“Remarkable… Each of these nine stories is superb.” —Carmela Ciuraru, The New York Times

“A writer with enchanting powers, Alvar wills us to crisscross the globe with [her characters] all over again.” —J.R. Ramakrishnan, The New York Times Book Review

“In a strong debut, Alvar brings to life a range of Filipino experiences that resonate both with the power of a unique identity and the universal wisdom of human experience.” —Claire Fallon, The Huffington Post

“Alvar’s characters are engaging and memorable, and their homes swell with visceral smells and sounds as she places us gently, firmly, into their imperfect lives.” —Isabella Biedenharn, Entertainment Weekly

“Alvar comes out swinging for the fences in her powerful first story collection about the Filipino diaspora—often exiled even at home—and doesn’t ever let up.” —Thomas Chatterton Williams, The San Francisco Chronicle

“Story collections are tricky business, and only the best of the best (think Jhumpa Lahiri) can craft such a cohesive narrative out of separately formed worlds. Alvar nails it on her first try.” PureWow

“Alvar finds beauty in the unlikeliest of places, and that’s what makes In the Country such an inspired, remarkable book.” —Michael Schaub, NPR Books

“The kind of writer whose imagination seems inexhaustible, and who stirs up an answering desire in her readers for more and more.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR Fresh Air

“[An] accomplished debut of longing and redemption. In lush, sinuous sentences, Alvar probes the enduring stain of race, colonialism, and especially class, giving voice to all strata of Philippine society.” Hamilton Cain, O, the Oprah Magazine

“Few writers, even the most seasoned, can produce collections of evenly superb stories. Mia Alvar triumphs on her first try.” Library Journal (starred review)

“A triumphant, singular collection deserving of every accolade it will likely receive.” Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“In this stunning debut collection, the yearnings of the characters resonate well beyond the page, and each story feels as rich, as deep, and as crafted as a novel.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)


Extraordinary Chefs and Sommeliers Stage Takeover of Upper East Side Mansion to Celebrate “An Evening in Manila” Benefiting ARK’s #MillionLunches Feeding Program for Rural Kids. The Filipino Express

For the Benefit of Filipino Rural Kids. Asian Journal

Morrison, Coates, Redniss Win 2016 PEN Awards. Publishers Weekly

PEN Literary Award winners: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Mia Alvar, more. Newsday

Mia Alvar Wins $25,000 PEN/Bingham Prize for Debut Story Collection In the Country. PEN America

Leovy, Alvar Win 2015 B&N Discover Awards. Publishers Weekly

Barnes & Noble Announces the Winners of the 25th Annual Discover Great New Writers® Awards. Business Wire

10 Essential Short Story Collections. Paste

John Leonard Prize Longlist Announced, And All 8 Nominees Were Written By Women. Bustle

Top 10 books of 2015. The Philippine Daily Inquirer

A conversation about short stories, Cory Aquino, sari-sari stores + more.

Bustle Books Writers Pick Their Favorite Books Of The Year. Bustle

The Books We Loved in 2015. The New Yorker

Best of 2015: 100 recommended books. The San Francisco Chronicle

FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR: What the Booksellers Loved. LitHub

FSG’s Favorite Books of 2015. FSG Work in Progress

Best Short Story Collections of 2015. Electric Literature

Our Guide To 2015’s Great Reads. NPR Book Concierge

2015 Holiday Gift Guide: 10 books worth giving — and getting — this season. Washington Independent Review of Books

Writers’ favorite books of 2015. The San Francisco Chronicle

‘Laláng’ in Davao. The Philippine Daily Inquirer

The 18 Best Fiction Books Of 2015. The Huffington Post

The NP99: The best books of the year. National Post

The 24 Best Fiction Books Of 2015. BuzzFeed Books

Getting to know ‘In The Country’ author Mia Alvar. GIST

Five books about overseas Filipinos. Rogue

BEST FICTION BOOKS OF 2015. Kirkus Reviews

Book luncheon highlights family, legacy. San Antonio Express-News

Book & Author luncheon focuses on history. San Antonio Express-News

Mia Alvar explores Filipino diaspora.

16 Incredible Books You Definitely Shouldn’t Miss This Summer. BuzzFeed Books

Seven Must-Read Books for July 2015. Miami New Times

6 Transportive Summer Titles. Washington Independent Review of Books

The complex Filipino journey according to fictionist Mia Alvar. Philippine Daily Inquirer

Short story collections from Mia Alvar, Edna O’Brien, Karen Joy Fowler. Newsday

The Best Books of 2015 So Far. Book Riot

Lauren Daley’s Summer Reading Guide Part II: New fiction. The Standard-Times

Recommended books, June 28. The San Francisco Chronicle

Summer Reading Selections. Chicago Tonight

Your Summer Reading. TuftsNow

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week. largehearted boy

Summer’s Best Beach Reads. Vogue

Three New Books to Bring on Your Next Trip. Condé Nast Traveler

Summer Reading: Everything Under the Sun. San Francisco Chronicle

10 Must-Read Books for June. Flavorwire

The Ultimate Guide To Summer Reading. Refinery29

23 fiction books you’ll want to read—and share—this summer. The Los Angeles Times

Your official summer reading guide. Nylon

17 Awesome Books You Need To Read This Summer. BuzzFeed Books

QUIZ: What New Book Should You Read This Summer? BuzzFeed Books

17 Of The Best Books Of Summer 2015 To Keep You Reading From The Kickoff BBQ To The Very Last Day Of The Season. Bustle

10 New Food Books to Read This Summer. GrubStreet

18 Brilliant Books You Won’t Want To Miss This Summer. The Huffington Post

Fifteen Books We’re Looking Forward to This Year. The Masters Review

MOST ANTICIPATED: The Great First-Half 2015 Book Preview. The Millions


In the Country is filled with graceful, carefully crafted stories—each one a world unto itself.” —Nathan Englander, author of What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

“The nine stories of Mia Alvar’s extraordinary In the Country carry characters’ abiding questions of life and meaning over distances of time and place. Real ache and yearning, attempts at connection happen here. The Philippines and people from there are connecting threads through this book, which feels like nine novels rather than nine ‘stories’; such is the gravity, totality, and presence. And what presence, how gracefully all is told: family stories, love stories, lost stories, found stories, ranging back and forth in time. These stories are so engaging and accomplished, one might think this some mid-career writer’s fifth or sixth book, but no, dear reader, it is Mia Alvar’s first. What a debut!” —Rick Simonson, The Elliott Bay Book Company

“Mia Alvar’s graceful and gutsy stories are rich with an all-too-rare quality in fiction: a keen sense of the wider world and how the searching, indelible characters that populate this collection fit within it. In the Country is a spectacular debut from a vital new talent.” —Laura van den Berg, author of Find Me

“In this stunning debut, Mia Alvar perfectly captures the feeling of displacement that is very much a part of the expatriate experience. Her Filipino protagonists are a part of, yet apart from the overseas locales they’ve gone to make a living. These heartbreaking stories will transport you beyond minutiae of your everyday life and alter the way you look at the world. In the Country marks the arrival of an exciting new literary talent.—Shawn Donley, Powell’s Books

“With a lyrical grace similar to Jhumpa Lahiri’s and a psychological acuity we find in Yoko Ogawa’s novellas, here is a talented new voice named Mia Alvar. The stories she’s written are the kind that can make a difference, the kind that can hold a fist up to your heart without letting go of their embrace, the kind with a light inside of them, whispering all the while, ‘This, this is life. This is my heart and mind in the world.’ An extremely promising debut.” —Mario Alberto Zambrano, author of Lotería

“A superb debut collection that reads like the work of a seasoned writer. Mia Alvar illuminates the lives of her characters with such penetrating insight, wisdom, and compassion that it’s impossible not to experience their struggles and aspirations as your own. Even as it satisfies, In the Country leaves the reader hungry for more from this gifted, sensitive storyteller.” —Sigrid Nunez, author of The Last of Her Kind

In the Country is an absolutely beautiful book—generous and heartbreaking, empathetic and insightful. Mia Alvar is an incredible storyteller, patient, assured and in utter control—every one of the endings in this gorgeous debut knocked me flat. A truly extraordinary collection of stories—I loved it.” —Molly Antopol, author of The UnAmericans

“It’s hard to believe that In the Country is Mia Alvar’s debut: her diamond prose sparkles so brightly and cuts so deeply. Each marvelous story shows us a facet of the Philippines at a distance—through the eyes of expats in Bahrain and Saudi, immigrants abroad and returning, and casual visitors—but what they illuminate most clearly is the distance between home and heart, and how our ties to the past can be simultaneously tenuous and tenacious.” —Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You

In the Country is one of the best books I’ve read in a very long time. Its characters—whether in Manila, Boston, or Bahrain—negotiate relations across the blurred borders of class, and each story unfolds its evidence that things are always more complicated than they seem. An outstanding debut.” —Joan Silber, author of Fools


The Fiction of Our Experiences: An Interview with Mia Alvar. The Margins, Asian American Writers’ Workshop

NY-based Pinay writer bares inspiration for In the Country. Mornings@ANC, ABS-CBN News Channel

A STARTING FIVE: Filipino Authors on Change, Craft, & Community. Bookwatch: The Official Publication of the Philippine National Book Development Board

Mia Alvar: In the Country (Stories). WritersCast

Author Mia Alvar’s Story Collection, “In The Country”. Kababayan Today on LA18 TV

Mia Alvar on her book ‘In the Country: Stories,’ a collection of stories about the Filipino diaspora. The New York Daily News Page Views Books Blog

Literary Life: A Conversation with Mia Alvar ’00. Harvard Magazine

Filipino lives get the spotlight: Mia Alvar draws on her own Filipino diaspora experiences for In the Country. MetroNews Canada

The Story Behind the Book. The Boston Globe

Mia Alvar on Miracle Workers, Mothers & Being a Citizen of the World. Omnivoracious: The Amazon Book Review

What’s Lost and What’s Gained: a conversation with Mia Alvar, author of In The Country. Electric Literature

Late Night Debut. Late Night Library

Appropriately Divided: Mia Alvar, Boris Fishman and Sara Nović in Conversation. Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers

Beyond the “Sometimes Sentimental” Story of Filipino Migrants. NPR All Things Considered

New Fiction: “Shadow Families” (excerpt). MyLittleBird

Mia Alvar: Author of IN THE COUNTRY. Kirkus Reviews

In the Country by Mia Alvar. Poets & Writers Magazine

Mia Alvar’s new novel focuses on the lives of Filipino expats. The National

Q&A with Mia Alvar. Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb

Episode 307, Eavesdropping. The Dinner Party Download

The Country in the City: PW Talks with Mia Alvar. Publishers Weekly

Introducing 2015 Debutante: Mia Alvar. One Story

The Kontrabida. One Story Author Q&A