Holler, Child: Stories (Hardcover)
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Longlisted for the National Book Award
An extraordinary and unforgettable short story collection about community, home, betrayal, and forgiveness—from a writer whose “spellbinding, buoyant”* storytelling will break your heart as it tends to the wounds.
In Holler, Child’s eleven brilliant stories, LaToya Watkins presses at the bruises of guilt, love, and circumstance. Each story introduces us to a character irrevocably shaped by place and reaching toward something—hope, reconciliation, freedom.
In “Cutting Horse,” the appearance of a horse in a man’s suburban backyard places a former horse breeder in trouble with the police. In “Holler, Child,” a mother is forced into an impossible position when her son gets in a kind of trouble she knows too well from the other side. And “Time After” shows us the unshakable bonds of family as a sister journeys to find her estranged brother—the one who saved her many times over.
Throughout Holler, Child, we see love lost and gained, and grief turned to hope. Much like LaToya Watkins’s acclaimed debut novel, Perish, this collection peers deeply into lives of women and men experiencing intimate and magnificent reckonings—exploring how race, power, and inequality map on the individual, and demonstrating the mythic proportions of everyday life.
About the Author
LaToya Watkins’s debut novel, Perish, was published to great acclaim in 2022. Her writing has appeared in A Public Space, The Sun, McSweeney’s, and the Kenyon Review, among other publications. She has received grants, scholarships, and fellowships from the Camargo Foundation, MacDowell, Yaddo, and elsewhere. She lives and teaches in a suburb of Dallas.
A Kirkus Most Anticipated Book of the Fall
One of The Millions’ Most Anticipated Titles of 2023
Included in Ebony's "August Required Reading"
One of Bookish's "30 Summer Books to Have on Your Radar"
Included in Essence's "15 New Books We Can't Wait to Read This Summer"
Included in Lone Star Literary Life's "Augugst 2023 Texas Books Preview"
Featured in LitHub's list of "New Books Out Today"
“The collection asks: Whom can we protect and at what cost? Atmospheric and cinematic, Holler, Child is well worth your time.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A poignant collection about the loves, losses, and struggles of a Black community in West Texas . . . Watkins plumbs the depths of our emotions with compassion and nuance, offering a complex understanding of the human condition.” —TIME, “The 100 Must-Read Books of the Year”
“Above all, Holler, Child is an engrossing showcase of ordinary people struggling to get by, carefully and compactly drawn… Watkins’s spare, evocative prose turns painful subject matter into thoughtful, transcendent art… an unforgettable collection.” —The Washington Post
“In this début short-story collection, a varied group of voices—male and female, young and old, parent and child—grapple with profound disruptions, from infidelity to illness . . . Though all the protagonists appear to chafe against what those they’re closest to expect of them, the stories’ prevailing sentiment is clear: ‘People need people. That’s heaven.’” —The New Yorker, Briefly Noted
“LaToya Watkins has surpassed the high bar set by her beautifully crushing debut novel, Perish,” with a collection of short stories titled Holler, Child… profound… an excellent collection with true staying power. Every single story could stand on its own but works beautifully toward the whole.” —Associated Press
“Powerful… Holler, Child, with equal fidelity, visits the extraordinary and the ordinary, the neglected and the grave… In Watkins’ very capable hands, grief often shines a light on the labyrinthian quality of love.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Part of what makes Watkins' collection so enveloping is her mastery of the slow reveal...Watkins [is] so good at capturing the depth of her characters, sometimes finding redemptive moments amid all the pain. She has an acute eye for the resentments and betrayals that can accumulate over a long marriage and the untenable sacrifices others can demand of us, but she also captures how love can sometimes be enough to hold things together.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A book for anyone who likes surprises in their stories, for short-story fans…Find Holler, Child and enjoy.”—Bookworm Sez
“Watkins’ collection is pitch perfect and bittersweet…Holler, Child is a masterful and deeply heartful look into the lives of a diverse set of emotionally complicated characters.” —Southern Review of Books
“Watkins’ characters are people most of us know, or at least people we know about. They live right here in Texas, and they touch all of our lives in myriad ways, be it intimately or merely in passing.” —Dallas Morning News
“Luminous...Despite betrayal, violence, and loss, the decision to survive—sometimes, with a hope to someday thrive—thrums loudly throughout this profound collection.” —Shelf Awareness
“The stories explore themes of love, betrayal and forgiveness and leave you wanting more.”—The Root, "Books by Black Authors We Can't Wait to Read"
“Riveting…Race, power, and inequality is woven throughout each of these stories featuring men and women alike.”—Upscale Magazine
“Watkins (Perish) portrays West Texas characters faced with loss, disappointment, and betrayal in this stunning collection… Adding to the fierce characterizations, Watkins beautifully conveys a sense of place…These kinetic stories are no less powerful than Watkins’s marvelous debut novel.”—Publishers Weekly, *starred review*
“Eleven searingly alive stories about Black men and women from West Texas explore the ways remorse and resentment can coexist in secrecy…Granular yet transcendent storytelling.”—Kirkus, *starred review*
“These tales explore fractured relationships between mothers and sons, couples grappling with the aftermath of infidelity, and children rejected by their families because of their choice of partner…Recommend Watkins to fans of Brit Bennett, Angela Flournoy, and Lakeshia Carr.”—Booklist, *starred review*
“Watkins’ second book is packed full of intriguing, fully realized characters—a real feat, give that they appear only for the length of a short story—living in the middle and aftermath of personal crises and discoveries…If you are looking for expertly crafted writing in your summer reading, this is an obvious choice.”—Jezebel, "11 Books You Should Read This Summer"
"Every story, every character, every line of LaToya Watkins's Holler, Child is a revelation. But it's the devastating voices of her characters that linger most. I got lost, in a good way, in these pages, in the complex, intimate worlds Watkins conjures so beautifully. Alluring, intense, and utterly original, this collection is a treasure!"—Deesha Philyaw, author of the National Book Award finalist The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
"With her debut book Perish, LaToya Watkins proved herself to be a masterful novelist right out of the gate. Now, with Holler, Child, Watkins shows herself to be a master of the short story as well. Each of these gorgeous, note-perfect stories packs the full-bodied punch of a novel, but with an economy and compression that are nothing short of miraculous. How does she do it? I don't know, but what I do know is that I very much want her to keep doing it."—Ben Fountain, author of National Book Award-finalist Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
"Holler, Child is a triumph of storytelling. With compassion, urgency, and exhilarating craft, Watkins plunges headlong into the voices, hearts, and minds of these unforgettable characters. This collection is outstanding—fearless, timely, and beautifully layered."—Kimberly King Parsons, author of National Book Award-nominated Black Light
"Holler, Child forced me to stop everything I was doing and surrender to its stories—richly turbulent with faith, violence, sorrow, reckoning, and exquisite tenderness. LaToya Watkins weaves together character and place with a poetry that evokes Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon. A heart-stopping collection."—Cristina García, author of Dreaming in Cuban and the forthcoming Vanishing Maps
“LaToya Watkins is a singular and fearless storyteller. She writes masterfully about moments of terrible, impossible choice, when everything that makes life worth living is on the line. These are intimate, richly textured portraits of West Texas life, full of longing and tenderness, inevitably tethered to betrayal and heartache. Every story in Holler, Child will confront you—heart, mind, and soul—and hold you, in its deep beauty. You won’t be the same after reading this extraordinary book!”—Jean Chen Ho, author of Fiona and Jane