Kali Fajardo-Anstine is a Chicana author from Denver whose debut short story collection, Sabrina & Corina, was published by One World/Penguin Random House on April 2. In the collection’s 11 emotionally electric stories, part autobiographical, part fictional, part culled from the lives of family and friends, Fajardo-Anstine explores the complicated quest for identity, cultural/physical displacement, indigeneity, gender roles, and, through it all, the contemporary American West. Over the phone last week, the author told the Current that, more precisely, “every story comes from a different running theme in [her] life, basically.” After a number of years getting stories published only sporadically, with folks often claiming her work was “too dark or too strange,” Fajardo-Anstine’s breakthrough moment has finally arrived. She said that so far her greatest joy in publishing has been receiving feedback from readers that have (understandably) been deeply impacted by her stories. “The fact that people can identify with these girls in my stories makes me feel a lot less lonely,” she said. Early critical reception for Sabrina & Corina has been deservedly favorable, even glowing. Fajardo-Anstine, whose stories prominently center on strong if tormented female characters navigating various stages of growing up, said that, above all else, she wants “people to feel seen in [her] work,” particularly people who have experienced alienation from mainstream American society. As for the disarming yet refreshingly unflinching way that her stories tend to deal with death and loss, the author attributes that to growing up as “a part of a big family in a culture that is not afraid of confronting death.” This weekend, Fajardo-Anstine will be in town to read from her works and sign copies of her book. On Saturday, she will also be teaching a course for writers called “Writing Place: Homelands in Literature” at Gemini Ink. Visit the website below for more details on both the reading and the course.