Mothers and Dogs

The 15 stories of Fabio Morábito's remarkable Mothers and Dogs reflect his own peregrinations through Europe and Mexico. Morábito--born in Egypt, raised in Italy, and identifying as Mexican since age 15--presents global citizens seeking (and missing) connections. After translating Morábito's 2021 novel, Home Reading Service, poet and professor Curtis Bauer translates Morabito's first collection of stories into English.

In the titular "Mothers and Dogs," Luis tends to his hospitalized, dying mother while his younger brother is tasked with feeding Luis's intimidating mastiff. Luis reappears in "Oncologist," venturing into a neighbor's party to retrieve his keys and finding a stranger's cancer diagnosis left on the sofa. Morábito intriguingly uses the same false name in two stories: in "The Sailboat," an expat calling himself Santibáñez poses as a potential buyer to enter his childhood apartment; in "On the Other Side of the Fence," a teen hoping to retrieve his tennis ball from the home next to the club declares his mother's name is Santibáñez. Assumptions and knowing are brilliantly juxtaposed in "The Dutch," about a man who contacts a family he met decades ago as a vacationing 10-year-old; in "At the Regional Bus Stop," featuring two passengers waiting for their rides; and in "Night Bakery" about an unrelated pair of predawn regulars at a Berlin bakery.

Small details comprise whole worlds in Morábito's absorbing narratives, sometimes realistic (a house-sitting friend), other times fantastical yet still believable (geriatric joggers turning aggressive under cover of darkness). Stories within stories also prove especially rewarding. Morábito even manages to turn death into a community-building opportunity, at least temporarily. --Terry Hong, BookDragon

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