2016 fiction finalist

Amina Gautier | Now We Will Be Happy

Amina Gautier

About the author
Amina Gautier was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. After earning a co-terminal BA/MA degrees from Stanford University, she attended the University of Pennsylvania, from which she obtained her Ph.D. She is the author of two other short story collections At-Risk, and The Loss of All Lost Things. Her fiction has won the Flannery O’Connor Award, The Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, a National Silver Medal IPPY Award, The Chicago Public Library’s 21st Century Award and has received fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society, Dora Maar, Hawthornden, MacDowell Colony and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. More than eighty-five of Gautier’s stories have been published, appearing in numerous literary journals, including AgniCallaloo, Glimmer TrainIowa Review, Kenyon ReviewPrairie Schooner, and Southern Review.

About the book
Now We Will Be Happy is a prize-winning collection of stories about Afro-Puerto Ricans, U.S.-mainland-born Puerto Ricans, and displaced native Puerto Ricans who are living between spaces while attempting to navigate the unique culture that defines their identity. Amina Gautier's characters deal with the difficulties of bicultural identities in a world that wants them to choose only one.

The characters in Now We Will Be Happy are as unpredictable as they are human. A teenage boy leaves home in search of the mother he hasn't seen since childhood; a granddaughter is sent across the ocean to broker peace between her relatives; a widow seeks to die by hurricane; a married woman takes a bathtub voyage with her lover; a proprietress who is the glue that binds her neighborhood cannot hold on to her own son; a displaced wife develops a strange addiction to candles. Crossing boundaries of comfort, culture, language, race, and tradition in unexpected ways, these characters struggle valiantly and doggedly to reconcile their fantasies of happiness with the realities of their existence.

Critics / Reviews
"What the stories in Now We Will Be Happy really do so impressively is compel the reader to pay attention to lives of breathtaking complexity"  — Jeffrey Condran, Necessary Fiction

"The stories in Now We Will Be Happy are about families that either grow together or fall apart, about the strands that weave together a culture, about the desire for a place both real and imaginary, about struggle and community and language. They brim with music, food, and history. They are infused with superstition, myth, magic."  — Jaquira Diaz, Los Angeles Review of Books

"The 11 linked stories in Gautier's debut collection . . . vividly evoke Puerto Rico's intoxicating, comforting atmosphere—that unbreakable tether binding struggling people in crowded Northeastern U.S. cities to their tropical homeland. . . . Gautier captures the unique experience, and predicament, of Puerto Ricans living in the mainland U.S."  Publishers Weekly

"Gautier's linked stories deftly capture her characters' internal struggles for identity and home."  — Leah Strauss, Booklist

"With a style that feels like a mixture of Junot Diaz and Edwidge Danicat, Gautier is a writer more people should be talking about."  — Coleen Muir, Rumpus

"Told with respect, grit, and truth, Now We Will Be Happy is a powerful collection about family, identity, and the sacrifices we make in our pursuits of happiness."  — Laura Farmer, Cedar Rapids Gazette

"Timely as well as beautifully rendered, Gautier's collection breathes life into America's racial and immigrant conflicts, going well below the skin-deep surface of her characters or expose the passions and hopes that unite diverse people."  — Sian Griffiths, Georgia Review

"Gautier's persistent thematic explorations into the meaning of family and identity make Now We Will Be Happy cohere and resonate in ways that you’ll remember long after the final page."  — Leland Cheuk, Kenyon Review

"In these richly textured and at times heartbreaking stories, Amina Gautier forges the links between generations and across oceans. She is a builder of bridges as she strives to find that middle ground between the two islands--Manhattan and Puerto Rico--that exert their tug on her characters and shape who they are and what they become."  — Mary Morris, author of Revenge

"In these moving, dramatic stories about hunger and fullness, Amina Gautier explores what it means to strive and live in the margins of American hope. Her shrewd compassion brings together characters determined to be happy and shows the cost of happiness with vivid, rich intelligence."  — Erin McGraw, author of Better Food for a Better World