Night at the Fiestas

Set in northern New Mexico, an astonishing, beautifully rendered debut about growing up in a land shaped by love, loss and violence.

With intensity and emotional precision, Kirstin Valdez Quade’s unforgettable stories plunge us into the fierce, troubled hearts of characters defined by the desire to escape the past or else to plumb its depths. The deadbeat father of a pregnant teenager tries to transform his life by playing the role of Jesus in a bloody penitential Passion. A young man discovers that his estranged father and a boa constrictor have been squatting in his grandmother’s empty house. A lonely retiree new to Santa Fe becomes obsessed with her housekeeper. One girl attempts to uncover the mystery of her cousin’s violent past, while another young woman finds herself at an impasse when she is asked to hear her priest’s confession.

Always hopeful, these stories chart the passions and obligations of family life, exploring themes of race, class, and coming-of-age, as Quade’s characters protect, betray, wound, undermine, bolster, define, and, ultimately, save each other.




“These stories are frankly some of the finest I have ever read…Kirstin Valdez Quade writes with life-loving precision, tenderness, and grace. These stories, set among the adobes and piñons and mesas of Northern New Mexico, are deeply compassionate hymns of longing, for respect for family, even when it’s broken, and ultimately for redemption, whether it can be found or not. I put these stories, and this is not hyperbole, in the company of Alice Munro’s, John Cheever’s, and Anton Chekov’s. Night at the Fiestas and Kirstin Valdez Quade are gifts to us all.”

—Andre Dubus III


“It’s become cliché to say that a writer’s short stories have the weight of novels, but in Kirstin’s case it happens to be true. Her New Mexico is a crucible where individual desire is forged, lost, and reconstituted amid a backdrop of colliding histories and cultures. The result is as close to flesh and blood as black ink on white paper can come. She is a story writer of searing vision.”

—Anthony Marra


“A debut collection filled with stories that read like classics (reminiscent of the work of Alice Munro or Flannery O’Connor), by a young author who writes with the patient, implacable wisdom of time.”

—Peter Ho Davies


“A stunning debut. With unflinching honesty and relentless compassion, Kirstin Valdez Quade conjures characters that are uncannily alive. Vibrant, incisive, and wickedly funny, Night at the Fiestas announces the arrival of a fiercely original new voice.”

—Jennifer duBois


“Kirstin Valdez Quade is a writer of extraordinary perception, a sharp-eyed truth-teller who renders her characters and the landscapes they inhabit with exquisite care. Each of these marvelous stories illuminates the messy, tender, unexplored borderland inside us all where our finest virtues bleed into our worst faults. A brilliant debut.”

—Maggie Shipstead


“Kirstin Valdez Quade is a fantastic writer, both stylish and sagacious. The stories here are taut and tense, while at the same time morally complicated, which is to say, they cut sharp and they cut deep. Night at the Fiestas is a book of extraordinary virtuosity.”

—Justin Torres