Add speakerRemove speakerSpeaker added

Kali Fajardo-Anstine

National Book Award Finalist and author of Sabrina & Corina

  • About Kali Fajardo-Anstine

    Kali Fajardo-Anstine is a National Book Award Finalist for her debut story collection, Sabrina & Corina. Drawing from her Southern Colorado heritage and life experiences living across the American West, Fajardo-Anstine’s writing and lectures reflect her own heritage as a Colorado Chicana with roots in Indigenous, Latina, and Filipino cultures. In rousing talks that challenge the status quo, Fajardo-Anstine speaks about her racial and familial identity, the systems in our society that hold back marginalized people, and the craft of writing about and researching one’s cultural roots.

    In Sabrina & Corina, Fajardo-Anstine puts Latinas of Indigenous descent living in the American West at the center of each story. Her words serve as a powerful meditation on friendships, identity, mothers and daughters, and the deep-rooted truths of our homelands. Against the remarkable backdrop of Denver, Colorado, the women in these stories navigate the land the way they navigate their lives: with caution, grace, and quiet force. In addition to being a finalist for the National Book Award, Sabrina & Corina is also a finalist for the Story Prize, a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection, and the winner of the American Book Award. The collection was named one of the best books of the year by the New York Public Library, Kirkus Reviews, and Library Journal, and the American Library Association named it a 2020 Notable Book. She is the 2022/2023 Endowed Chair of Creative Writing at Texas State University. Her first novel, Woman of Light, will be published in 2022.

    Fajardo-Anstine’s deep love of bookstores led her to work as a bookseller for over a decade at West Side Books in North Denver. Her work has been honored with the Denver Mayor’s Award for Global Impact in the Arts and the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association Reading the West Award. She has been edited and mentored by writers like Mat Johnson, Joy Williams, and Ann Beattie. She received the 2021 Addison M. Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her stories and essays have appeared in GAY MagazineThe American Scholar, Boston Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Southwestern American LiteratureElectric Literature, and more. Fajardo-Anstine has attended residencies at Yaddo, where she was the 2017 recipient of The LeSage-Fullilove Residency, Hedgebrook, and MacDowell Colony. She received her MFA from the University of Wyoming and has lived across the country, from San Diego, California, to Key West, Florida.

    Fajardo-Anstine earned her MFA from the University of Wyoming and has lived across the country, from Durango, Colorado, to Key West, Florida.

  • Speaking Topics

    Claiming Identity as an Act of Resilience

    As an intersectional Chicana feminist with roots in Indigenous, Latina, and Filipino cultures, Kali Fajardo-Anstine focuses strongly on mixed identity in her work. In a talk that engages and inspires, Fajardo-Anstine discusses the nature of claiming one’s identity, whether that be racial, familial, economic, or social. She shows audiences the power of resiliency in understanding where you come from, and draws on her experience as a mixed race woman from a working class background to underscore identity as a tool of empowerment.

    Challenging Our Social Structures

    Kali Fajardo-Anstine is no stranger to the societal systems at work that, whether advertently or inadvertently, suppress women of color. By illustrating her background—a working class high school drop out from Colorado who has experienced and witnessed mental illness, generational trauma, and domestic violence—she challenges things like American education, health care, and mental health services, and argues that these systems do not always help those who are pushed to the margins. Fajardo-Anstine infuses this lecture with honesty about the massive change required of the systems we rely on in order for people of all backgrounds to benefit from them.

    Researching and Writing About Your Roots

    In writing her debut short story collection, Sabrina & Corina, Kali Fajardo-Anstine utilized research and archives to access the many facets of her culture. In a talk that blends craft with knowledge, Fajardo-Anstine reveals how writers of all kinds can begin to research their cultural roots in order to write more meaningful short stories and novels about certain identities.

  • Video

  • Praise for Kali Fajardo-Anstine

    Praise for Sabrina & Corina

    Sabrina & Corina isn’t just good, it’s masterful storytelling. Fajardo-Anstine is a fearless writer: her women are strong and scarred witnesses of the violations of their homelands, their culture, their bodies; her plots turn and surprise, unerring and organic in their comprehensiveness; her characters break your heart, but you keep on going because you know you are in the hands of a master. Her stories move through the heart of darkness and illuminate it with the soul of truth.

    Julia Alvarez, author of How the García Girls Lost Their Accents

    [A] powerhouse debut . . . stylistically superb, with crisp dialogue and unforgettable characters, Sabrina & Corina introduces an impressive new talent to American letters.

    Rigoberto González, NBC News

    Fierce and essential stories . . . Feminine agency, legacy and kinship . . . govern the hearts of every character in this book.

    The New York Times

    A terrific collection of stories—fiercely and beautifully made.

    Joy Williams

    Here are stories that blaze like wildfires, with characters who made me laugh and broke my heart, believable in everything they said and did. How tragic that American letters hasn’t met these women of the West before, women who were here before America was America. And how tragic that these working-class women haven’t seen themselves in the pages of American lit before. Thank you for honoring their lives, Kali. I welcome them and you.

    Sandra Cisneros

    In the eleven stories of Sabrina & Corina, Fajardo-Anstine writes a love letter to the Chicanas of her homeland—women as unbreakable as the mountains that run through Colorado and as resilient as the arid deserts that surround it. . . . In her fierce, bold stories, these women—and she—are seen, and heard, and made known; the collection is both a product of pain and a celebration of survival. . . . Like the woman on Sabrina & Corina’s cover, the hearts of these characters are exposed but intact. Fajardo-Anstine’s heart is there on the page, too, beating with the blood of her ancestors.


    Sabrina & Corina summons a world we hardly recognize, but should. . . . Fajardo-Anstine can make a story smell of sickness. She can make legend of malediction. Conjuring the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and unfurling the Denver skyline, there is no limit to what Fajardo-Anstine can manifest on paper and, subsequently, in our dreams. Yet, what is most admirable is the courage of her hand. She’s unafraid to delve into areas of race, feminism, queerness, and class. She interrogates whiteness, and its associations like passing and colorism, prodding unapologetically.

    Electric Literature

    [A] beautiful collection.


    [An] engrossing collection of tales . . . Stories that bravely reinvent the Wild West narrative by lifting up Latinx women and portraying callused hand cowboys not as heroes, but as villains and perpetrators of violence.

    Latino Book Review

    You will clutch your heart reading Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s short story collection. Her stories are that heartbreaking, each one like a gift from a small child, offered with earnest, luminous eyes, innocence itself, impossible to reject. . . . Go find yourself a copy of this thrilling, touching, beautiful book.

    New York Journal of Books

    In [Sabrina & Corina] we find a different narrative of the West. These are women who inhabit a space between the Indigenous and the Latinx; they are fierce [and] powerful in their own way.

    Brooklyn Rail

    Kali Fajardo-Anstine writes about hard truths in women’s lives so knowingly, and with such a deft touch, I felt hyper-alert, as well as implicated and imperiled. The book is about belief, coping, yearning, and proceeding in spite of adversity (that is, the times we stay alive). The final act of the first story tells us everything we need to know about what territory we’ll be entering: In these achingly convincing stories, the writer is writing delicately, symbolically, about mortality itself.

    Ann Beattie
  • Books by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

  • Media About Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Request Fees
and Availability

  • 212 572-2013
  • Kali Fajardo-Anstine travels from Laramie, WY

Similar Speakers

Edwidge Danticat

MacArthur Fellow and critically acclaimed Haitian-American writer