2020 Clark Prize Finalist Spotlight: Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Originally from Denver, Colorado, Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s upbringing in the fabled American West has proven to be the perfect canvas for her writing, and this is especially evident in her acclaimed short story collection, Sabrina & Corina, named a finalist for the L.D. and LaVerne Harrell Clark Fiction Prize. Despite its recent publication in 2019, the collection has already garnered an incredible set of accolades; it was a finalist for the National Book Award, the PEN/Bingham Prize, The Story Prize, and The Saroyan International Prize. Moreover, the collection has already won an American Book Award and Reading the West Award, and has received acclaim from publications such as The New York Times, Bustle, and Latino Book Review, as well as from authors such as Sandra Cisneros, who writes, “here are stories that blaze like wildfires, with characters who made me laugh and broke my heart, believable in everything they said and did.”

The collection highlights the unsung heroines of the American West: Latina and Native American women, all of whom are working-class and grappling with their fraught lives and loves in a deeply vivid, rapidly-changing landscape. The pages transport us from the mountains of Colorado to the coastlines of California, plunging us into the everyday trials faced by these tenacious women and positioning us as witness to their endless grit, grace, and resilience. Although each story in the collection features different characters and storylines, the book’s core remains the same: it is a deeply-moving love letter to the forgotten women of color in the wild American West and the ancient heartbeat of the storied land they call home.

In addition to the publication of her successful debut, Fajardo-Anstine’s writing has appeared in ELLE, O, the Oprah Magazine, The American Scholar, Boston Review, Bellevue Literary Review, The Idaho Review, Southwestern American Literature, and elsewhere. She has also been awarded fellowships from Yaddo, MacDowell Colony, Tin House, and Hedgebrook, and in 2019, she received the Denver Mayor’s Award for Global Impact in the Arts.