Patricia Engel: What Sustains the Separated Family?
In Conversation with Kendra Winchester on Reading Women
In this week’s episode, Kendra chats with Patricia Engel, the author of Infinite Country, which is out now from Avid Reader Press.
From the episode:
Patricia Engel: There’s something else that’s different about this moment, which we didn’t see coming, of course—and I certainly couldn’t have seen it when I was writing the book—is that we are living in a time of separation because of the pandemic. And there are a lot of people who haven’t been able to see their loved ones in a long time, in as long as a year, even family members in the same city or the same state, because of the pandemic and the risks, or even the laws and the rules.
So maybe in some small way, people are getting a small taste of what it’s like to be separated from the people you love for reasons that are totally out of your control, and where you have no idea when is the next time that you’re going to see them or if you’re going to see them safely. And what does that do to a family? Does it make you less of a family because you’re separated? So this book also explores what defines a family, whether it’s proximity or it’s love, and if that can be sustained over time and over distance.
Patricia Engel is the author of The Veins of the Ocean, winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize; It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris, winner of the International Latino Book Award; and Vida, a finalist for the Pen/Hemingway and Young Lions Fiction Awards, New York Times Notable Book, and winner of Colombia’s national book award, the Premio Biblioteca de Narrativa Colombiana. She is a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her stories appear in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and elsewhere. Born to Colombian parents, Patricia teaches creative writing at the University of Miami.