Migrations By J. L. Torres in conversation with Sara Schaff
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In J. L. Torres’s second story collection Migrations, the inaugural winner of the Tomás Rivera Book Prize, a “sucio” goes to an underground clinic for therapy to end his machista ways and is accidentally transitioned. Ex-gangbangers gone straight deal with a troubled, gifted son drawn to the gangsta lifestyle promoted by an emerging music called hip-hop. Dead and stuck “between somewhere and nowhere,” Roberto Clemente, the great Puerto Rican baseball icon, soon confronts the reason for his predicament. These stories take us inside the lives of self-exiles, unhomed and unhinged people, estranged from loved ones, family, culture, and collective history. Despite the effects of colonization of the body and mind, Puerto Ricans have survived beyond geography and form an integral part of the American mosaic.
J. L. Torres is the author of The Family Terrorist and Other Stories; a novel, The Accidental Native; and the collection of poetry, Boricua Passport. He has published stories and poems in numerous journals and magazines, including the North American Review, Denver Quarterly, Hayden's Ferry Review, Eckleburg Review, Puerto del Sol, Las Americas Review, and the anthology Growing Up Latino. Born in Puerto Rico, raised in the South Bronx, he lives in Plattsburgh, New York, where he teaches American literature, US ethnic literatures, and creative writing at the SUNY campus there. Besides the PhD, he holds an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University.
Sara Schaff is the author of the story collections The Invention of Love (Split/Lip Press 2020) and Say Something Nice About Me (Augury Books 2016), a CLMP Firecracker Award Finalist in fiction and a 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist for short fiction. Her writing has appeared in Catapult, Kenyon Review Online, Gay Magazine, The Missouri Review, Yale Review Online, The Belladonna, Michigan Quarterly Review, LitHub, and elsewhere.
A graduate of Brown University and the MFA program at the University of Michigan, Sara has taught at Oberlin College, the University of Michigan, and St. Lawrence University, as well as in China, Colombia, and Northern Ireland, where she also studied storytelling. Sara lives and teaches in the North Country of New York State with her husband, the poet Benjamin Landry, and their daughter.