Our Lady of the Artichokes and Other Portuguese-American Stories


Our Lady of the Artichokes and Other Portuguese-American Stories

Katherine Vaz

The Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction Series

168 pages
14 photos, 7 figures


October 2008


$17.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The stories in this prize-winning collection evoke a complete world, one so richly imagined and finely realized that the stories themselves are not so much read as experienced. The world of these stories is Portuguese-American, redolent of incense and spices, resonant with ritual and prayer, immersed in the California culture of freeway and commerce. Packed with lyrical prose and vivid detail, acclaimed writer Katherine Vaz conjures a captivating blend of Old World heritage and New World culture to explore the links between families, friends, strangers, and their world.
From the threat of a serial killer as the background for a young girl’s first brush with death to the fallout of a modern-day visitation from the Virgin Mary; from an AIDS-stricken squatter refusing to vacate an empty Lisbon home to a mother’s yearlong struggle with the death of her synesthetic daughter, these deft stories make their world ours.

Author Bio

Katherine Vaz is a Briggs-Copeland Fellow in fiction at Harvard University. She is the author of Saudade, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection; Mariana, available in six languages and selected by the Library of Congress as one of the Top 30 International Books of 1998; and Fado & Other Stories, winner of the 1997 Drue Heinz Literature Prize.


"Katherine Vaz is the sort of fiction writer who makes me wonder why the rest of us even bother. . . . My favorite book of Vaz's is Our Lady of the Artichokes."—Tayari Jones, New York Times

"Vaz is a soulful writer who understands her protagonists' complex lives, as well as the way religious beliefs can assert themselves most powerfully after leaving native soil."—Publishers Weekly

"This slim, sophisticated story collection demonstrates Vaz's many enviable skills. Several stories rely on a unifying theme, such as dealing with fear or coping with loss. But instead of being structured on an arc of conflict, climax and resolution, these cerebral pieces demand that readers assemble the pictures for themselves."—SFGate.com

"One comes away from these stories believing that it is possible to bargain with, sacrifice to, confront, divert, and even overcome adversity. In this wonderful collection, Vaz gives us characters who delight in the marvelous, which lurks, often undetected, just beneath the surface of our ordinary lives."—Joyce Wilson, Harvard Review

“In Katherine Vaz’s new volume of short fiction, she demonstrates brilliantly that rare quality of truly fine writing—a deeply profound knowingness about the human condition. Our Lady of the Artichokes and Other Portuguese-American Stories will even more widely prove what is already clear to many: Katherine Vaz is a master of the short story.”—Robert Olen Butler, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

“Katherine Vaz is an old-fashioned storyteller in the best sense. Her work is sensual, rich in detail and layered history. Her stories overflow with incident and feeling. Other writers present fruit plates. Vaz serves cornucopias.”—Allegra Goodman, author of Intuition and Kaaterskill Falls

"Vaz writes with quiet ease and skill—and her explorations of lives absent of grace are subtle and worth reading."—B. J. Hollars, Pleiades

Table of Contents

Taking a Stitch in a Dead Man's Arm
All Riptides Roar with Sand from Opposing Shores
Our Lady of the Artichokes
My Bones Here Are Waiting for Yours
The Man Who Was Made of Netting
The Knife Longs for the Ruby
The Mandarin Question
Lisbon Story


2007 Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction

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