The fiction writer whose new book is the story collection '' The Faraway World '' is touched when new friends share their reading tastes with her : '' It's like being granted permission to peek inside their souls.''

.- What books are on your night stand?

''The Easy Life,'' by Marguerite Duras, ''Small Things Like These,'' by Claire Keegan, ''The Hero of This Book,'' by Elizabeth McCracken, ''Fiona and Jane,'' by Jean Chen Ho, ''Heart Berries,'' by Terese Marie Mailhot, and ''Abyss,'' by Pilar Quintana.

.- What's the last great book you read?

I recently reread Edwidge Danticat's ''The Art of Death,'' an extraordinary exploration of ways we make meaning from death both in life and in literature. It was even more revelatory reading it from this point in the pandemic.

.- What's your favorite book no one else has heard of ?

One of my favorite books that many have heard of and love well, but maybe less so outside of Latin America so it's one I often recommend, is ''In the Beginning Was the Sea,'' by Tomas Gonzales. It's beautiful, compact, and shocks at every turn.

'' The Faraway World '' is your second story collection, in addition to three novels. Are there writers of short fiction you particularly admire?

There are many and it's hard to narrow it down. A few who have recently published dazzling story collections are Lauren Groff, Manuel Munoz, Danielle Evans, Brandon Taylor, Ayse Papatya Bucak, Anthony Veasna So, Laura van den Berg, Mariana Enriquez and Caitlin Horrocks.

.- What makes for a good short story, as opposed to a novel-length narrative?

I love stories that read like a world in miniature, immersive, containing movement and transformation, and novels that shift and ignite with the arcs and ellipses of a far-fetched and hard-earned journey.

Whether a short story or a novel, my favorites give the rush of meeting someone who transfixes you in the first conversation with playfulness, intimacy or surprise, when you intuit a new alchemy but didn't yet know what it will mean. So it goes with a story whether it's told within a dozen or hundreds of pages.

.- What kind of reader were you as a child? What are the childhood books and authors that have stuck with you most?

I loved reading and was not very picky about books. I most enjoyed books starring animals with human-resembling lives and complex community dynamics like the ''Rats of NIMH'' books, or even Greek mythology.

My parents kept me supplied as much as they could but when I ran out of books I'd dip into my older brother's shelves, repeat read a collection of biographies on historical figures written for children [ I don't recall the name ] or browse the Encyclopedia Britannica.

I vividly remember when the Time-Life ''Mysteries of the Unknown'' books started to arrive one by one in the mail each month. I was 10 or 11. I devoured them and still have them all.

.- You're organizing a literary dinner party.Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

I'd make it a gathering of departed literary heroes I've been speaking to in my imagination for some time : Toni Morrison, Clark Lispector and Anais Nin.

.- What are the books that you find yourself returning to again and again?

The books my parents have given me at various points in my life. Among those, the ones I pick up most frequently are ''Paula,'' by Isabel Allende, given to me by my mother, and ''Man's Search for Meaning,'' by Viktor E. Framkl, given to me by my father.

.- What are you planning on reading next?

I'm looking forward to reading ''Take What You Need,'' by Idra Novey, ''When the Hibiscus Falls,'' by M. Evelina Galang and ''Who Gets Believed? When the Truth Isn't Enough,'' by Dina Nayeri.

The World Students Society thanks The New York Times.


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