A stylistically and conceptually daring collection that winds from fantastical horror to mischievous domestic realism and always keeps in its sharp, compassionate view the material, spiritual, and emotional lives of Haitian people.
Playful, kinetic, and devastating in turn, You Were Watching from the Sand is a collection in which Haitian men, women, and children who find their lives cleaved by the interminably strange bite back at the bizarre with their own oddities. In “belly,” a young woman abandoned by her only living relative makes a person from the mud beside her backyard creek. In “We Feel it in Punta Cana,” a domestic child servant in the Dominican Republic tours through his own lush imagination to make his material conditions more bearable. In “The Oldest Sensation is Anger,” a teenager invites a same-aged family friend into her apartment and uncovers a spate of disturbing secrets about her. Written in a mixture of high lyricism, absurdist comedy, and Haitian cultural witticisms, this is a collection whose dynamism matches that of its characters at every beat and turn.
“Every sentence Juliana Lamy writes is like a match being struck. Not many authors debut with her clarity of vision, inventiveness, and verbal agility, and I would wager almost anything that You Were Watching from the Sand will mark only the first chapter in an important body of work.”
—Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Ghost Variations: One Hundred Stories
“These thrilling stories are triumphs of voice and style, of landscape, of finding unanticipated bursts of beauty in the most ferocious of times. Juliana Lamy writes with stunning insight about the groundswells of rupture and healing, of community and isolation, that shape her characters’ lives. You Were Watching from the Sand is a brilliant and unforgettable debut.” – Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel