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Wayne State University Press

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Detroit Love Stories

Esperanza M. Cintrón

Award Winner

Fiction, African American Studies, Gender

Made in Michigan Writers Series

Published: August 2019
ISBN: 9780814346884
Pages: 320 Size: 5.5 x 8.5
Published: August 2019
ISBN: 9780814346891
Pages: 320 Size: EPUB

Esperanza Cintrón's Shades: Detroit Love Stories is a short story collection that is distinctly Detroit. By touching on a number of romantic and sexual encounters that span the historical and temporal spaces of the city, each of these interconnected stories examines the obstacles an individual faces and the choices he or she makes in order to cope and, hopefully, survive in the changing urban landscape.

Shades begins in the 1960s by following two young black women who are determined to find joy in their lives even as they struggle to make ends meet. Their lives continue to evolve under triumphant and disappointing conditions—falling in and out of love, giving birth, raising children, and struggling to "make it" despite disappointing and tenuous love affairs and relationships. The setting throughout the eighteen stories shifts as these women age and their children extend the timeline, reflecting on the city's social and political changes over three decades, as well as the pitfalls, tragedies, and opportunities these linked families encounter. Cintrón favors an everyday vernacular for her characters' voices in order to reflect the complexities of their working/middle-class, ethnic, and racial identities. Divided into two sections, Eastside and Westside, the collection gives a nod to the sometimes contentious geographical split marked by Woodward Avenue. Cintrón takes readers through city streets—from neighborhood bars to burger joints—while painting lyrical portraits of the unique and multifaceted characters whose honesty shatters the illusion of endless love and happily-ever-after fantasies, as they clash with the circumstances of economics and race.

Cintrón's stories capture the rhythms of language and the poetry of the people and will interest readers of fiction or poetry who seek to understand love.

Esperanza Cintrón is the author of three books of poetry that include Chocolate City Latina, the 2013 Naomi Long Madgett Award winner What Keeps Me Sane, and Visions of a Post-Apocalyptic Sunrise. She is a native Detroiter of Puerto Rican descent who holds a doctorate in English literature and teaches at a local college.

A richly textured tapestry of the lived experiences of ordinary working-class Detroiters, men and women, the young and the young-at-heart, that brings to light the daily struggles of the disenfranchised and marginalized who strive to eke out a living; put a roof over their heads; care for their loved ones; fend off racism, crime, and urban blight; and keep hope alive through spiritual salvation, education, and love in one of America’s postindustrial cities.

– Jorge L. Chinea, professor of history and director of the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies

Esperanza Cintron really drew me close to her characters. I was enthralled by them, moved by their tragedies, and I enjoyed their lust for life. I caught myself asking why they get into these predicaments but then it is all there, it made sense. Before I knew it, I had reached the end of the book. What a read.

– Osvaldo "Ozzie" Rivera, musician and cultural activist

We are invited into a world in which characters and their tales, over extended spans of time, connect and interweave with the intricate delicacy of a sunlit spider’s web. I wish I had written them.

– Bill Harris, 2011 Kresge Foundation Eminent Artist and author of I Got to Keep Moving (Wayne State University Press, 2018)

In this vibrant collection of interconnected stories, Cintrón captures the struggles, joys, funk, suffering, and transcendence of a hard-living and hard-loving community and its people. So many characters left the page and lingered in my consciousness; so many shades of wonderful.

– Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés, author of Oye What I'm Gonna Tell You

Esperanza Cintrón has provided a detailed universe within her world in Shades: Detroit Love Stories, telling a wide variety of tales from a eclectic array of perspectives in this interrelated collection. I liked meeting these characters, getting to know them, then seeing them show up as secondary characters, and sometimes, secondary voices, in other stories. That paints a pretty elaborate landscape. Everything about this book sparks with energy and heartache and even some genuine good times. This family, headed by these two friends, faces so much, and Cintrón chronicles it all so eloquently.

– Michael Czyzniejewski, Story366

  • 2020 Michigan Notable Book Awards - Result: 1 of 20 selected annually
  • 2020 Midwest Book Awards - Result: Silver Medal Winner in the Short Story category