From National Book Award finalist Susan Straight comes a collection of linked stories set in the fictional African American community of Rio Seco: loosely based on Straight’s home in Riverside, California, and deftly evoked through her remarkable prose.
Full of defiance and tenderness, Aquaboogie chronicles the happiness and tragedies that the residents of Rio Seco—like Nacho, the art student/janitor, or the boom box–carrying Shawan—encounter while struggling through life and self-definition. Throughout, these sketches are the product of “a writer whose love for her characters infuses her work with the dignity and urgency they so clearly deserve” (New York Times)—by a writer “keenly aware of people’s habits, thoughts, speech patterns, indeed almost everything about them” (Washington Post).
In Aquaboogie, Susan Straight has created an affectionate, richly textured portrait of life in a California town.
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Praise and Prizes
“Susan Straight is a remarkable writer—there is no new, emerging voice of the past decade more exciting, more surprising, and more richly and subtly human than she.”
“A love story in fragments, a tale of an unrelenting struggle to preserve tenderness for friends and loved ones against the brutalities of the outside world, a book by a writer whose love for her characters infuses her work with the dignity and urgency they so clearly deserve.”
“Remarkable . . . A world of pain and love and longing is contained in these stories.”
“Susan Straight has created an entire world, and her small neighborhood is overgrown and lush with legends—hardly a dry river. A rich collection of stories that demands to be read and reread.”
“Rio Seco seems surprisingly real—full of believable characters and events, created by a woman supremely sure of her environment. . . . Aquaboogie vividly captures people who know the rhythm of their own lives. They twist and turn on its beats, yet they remain partially submerged, trying not to drown.”
“Susan Straight’s first major work is a calendar sequence of tales, memorable character studies with their common setting in Rio Seco. . . . There is a startling, reverberant clarity in these portraits.”
“Susan Straight finds the courage and nobility deep down in sheer endurance, and her truly indomitable characters are among the strongest in recent American fiction.”