About Painting Their Portraits in Winter
In this artfully crafted collection of new short stories by award-winning author Myriam Gurba, nothing is as it seems on the surface. A Mexican grandmother tells creepy yet fascinating ghost stories to her granddaughters as a way to make them sit still (“How Some Abuelitas Keep Their Chicana Granddaughters Still So That They Can Paint Their Portraits in Winter”). A Polish grandfather spends the night in a Mexican graveyard after a Día de Muertos celebration to discover if ghosts really do consume the food that has been left for them (“Even This Title Is a Ghost”).
Unforgettable characters inhabit these cross-border tales filled with introspection and longing, as modern sensibilities weave and wind through traditional folktales creating a new kind of magical realism that offers insights into where we come from and where we may be going.
“Set partly in the U.S. and partly in Mexico, this is lush, dark storytelling with a bit of a chill to it.” —Book Riot
“At their essence, Gurba’s stories break from tradition precisely at the moments that they tie themselves to it. The stories are magical, they are full of ghosts, again and again they call back to Mexico, to mothers and grandmothers and the stories they tell. At the same time though, these stories are distinctly modern. They are vulnerable, and perhaps most satisfying because they don’t romanticize cultural memory. Gurba’s stories are not folktales. They are living culture; a beautiful and unique representation of what it’s like to be a chicana woman in America today.” — Drizzle
“Painting Portraits in Winter is a story collection that redefines, sharpens, deepens, and revivifies the Chicana archetype.” — Epilogue
“A storyteller of the leanest and meanest variety, Gurba writes from the Borderlands between different countries, ethnicities, generations, and desires.” — Emily Books
“Painting Their Portraits represents a deeply Mexican experience, one particular to a young, Chicana, queer, nerdy girl with a taste for the shadowy side of life.” — KQED
“What she does with language is unlike anything I read. Her sentences are like passages in a labyrinth with weird surprises throughout. There is slurping and ghosts and slits and clefts and papaya innards and ladybug urine and bush and death and Chihuawhite and Mexicanity and corn dogs and a “lucky abyss.” I’m in love. Go see for yourself.” — Wendy Ortiz, author of Excavation: A Memoir
“Always edgy, thought-provoking and funny, Gurba doesn’t resist invoking Mexican superstitions, traditions and cuentos (stories) and giving them fresh perspective with this collection of stories that is a satisfying follow-up to her award-winning book Dahlia Season. At every turn Gurba dares to upend the sexist elements of Mexican lore and to reimagine the familiar narratives through a feminist lens, reminding us that the old stories still matter, but that there’s room for improvement.” — Rigoberto González, NBC News