"These are new Cubans. Twenty-first-century Marielitos. Balseros, as the bartender had referred to them. I know, because my mom tells me that these are the kinds of Cubans I need to stay away from."
In eight captivating stories, In This World of Ultraviolet Light—winner of the 2021 Don Belton Prize—navigates tensions between Cubans, Cuban Americans, and the larger Latinx community. Though these stories span many locations—from a mulch manufacturing facility on the edge of Big Cypress National Preserve to the borderlands between Georgia and the Carolinas—they are overshadowed by an obsession with Miami as a place that exists in the popular imagination. Beyond beaches and palm trees, Raul Palma goes off the beaten path to portray everyday people clinging to their city and struggling to find cultural grounding. As Anjali Sachdeva writes, "This is fiction to steal the breath of any reader, from any background."
Boldly interrogating identity, the discomfort of connection, and the entanglement of love and cruelty, In This World of Ultraviolet Light is a nuanced collection of stories that won't let you go.
1. All along the Hills
2. Ropa Vieja
3. Never through Miami
4. The Roasting Box
5. Stand Your Ground
6. The Phone Thieves
7. Immaculate Mulch
"Through the lens of Cuban-American identity, In These Worlds of Ultraviolet Light explores the viciousness we often visit upon each other in times of duress, our fumbling attempts at connection, and the moments when love and cruelty become the same thing. The characters range from recent immigrants to Americans of Cuban descent struggling to find cultural grounding, to a worksite manager who can see her employees as nothing more than 'those Spanish-chirping little men.' But while the writing is thoughtful and bold in its interrogation of identity, this is fiction to steal the breath of any reader, from any background. There were passages that had me looking away from the page for a moment as I tried to let my heart catch up to what my brain was reading, and others that had me laughing aloud, at both the characters' wit and the author's daring. The writing is nuanced, charged, filled with turns so artfully constructed you can only surrender to each story and let it take you where it wants to go. This book, so full of the characters' pain, was a pleasure to read, and I offer my congratulations to the author not only on winning the Belton Prize, but on creating a remarkable collection of stories."~Anjali Sachdeva, Don Belton Prize judge, author of All the Names They Used for God
"The stories in this wonderful, vibrant collection made me homesick for the Miami so lovingly and hilariously rendered on its pages—a moving portrayal of a place worth mourning and celebrating."~Jennine Capó Crucet, author of My Time Among the Whites
"The stories collected In This World of Ultraviolet Light by Raul Palma unleash surprises at every turn. The characters and experiences are familiar and yet a newness and strangeness emerges like a bright glow escaping from the other side that make us fascinated. Casting a different light on why we love, I simply couldn't stop reading."~Helena María Viramontes, author of Their Dogs Came with Them
"In This World of Ultraviolet Light establishes Raul Palma as a writer to be watched. He is an important new voice in short fiction with daring stories to tell."~Amina Gautier, author of At-Risk, Now We Will Be Happy, and The Loss of All Lost Things
"Raul Palma's In This World of Ultraviolet Light is a knockout. Saturated with tenderness and longing, these shimmering stories illuminate the soft, weird underbelly of psyches as brutal and exquisite as real life. For all who care about contemporary fiction, Latinx and Cuban American experiences in the 21st century, or la ciudad magica of Miami, Palma's debut collection is a must-read."~Joy Castro, author of One Brilliant Flame