The Lucky Ones: A Novel by Julianne PachicoThe Lucky Ones: A Novel by Julianne Pachico

The Lucky Ones: A Novel

byJulianne Pachico

Hardcover | March 7, 2017

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A literary jigsaw puzzle of a debut novel set in Colombia during the peak of its decades-long conflict, and in New York City

While her parents are away, a teenager finds herself home alone, with the household staff mysteriously gone, no phone connection, and news of an insurgency on the radio—and then she hears a knock at the door. Her teacher, who has been kidnapped by guerrillas, recites Shakespeare in the jungle to a class of sticks, leaves, and stones while his captors watch his every move. Another classmate, who has fled Colombia for the clubs of New York, is unable to forget the life she left behind without the help of the little bags of powder she carries with her. Taking place over two decades, The Lucky Ones presents us with a world in which perpetrators are indistinguishable from saviors, the truth is elusive, and loved ones can disappear without a trace.

A prismatic tale of a group of characters who emerge and recede throughout the novel and touch one another’s lives in ways even they cannot comprehend, The Lucky Ones captures the intensity of life in Colombia as paramilitaries, guerrillas, and drug traffickers tear the country apart. Combining vivid descriptions of life under siege with a hallucinatory feel that befits its violent world, The Lucky Ones introduces a truly original and exciting new voice in fiction.

Praise for The Lucky Ones

“A blunt, fresh and unsentimental look inside Colombia’s last thirty bloody years . . . an enjoyable and freaky joy ride. . . . [Julianne] Pachico conveys the fear that Colombian children grow up with—she made that pit in my stomach open up again. . . . At the end you’ll come out of this ride with a better understanding of Colombia’s surreal state of affairs.”—Silvana Paternostro, The New York Times Book Review

“[A] brilliantly wacked-out collection of linked stories about Colombia’s long civil war.”New York

“An expansive tapestry of a debut.”Elle

“Thrilling . . . The Lucky Ones is no ordinary coming-of-age novel. Julianne Pachico’s remarkably inventive debut navigates what it means to grow up wealthy amid the reality of conflict in Colombia.”—The Atlantic

"Nothing is conventionally cohesive in The Lucky Ones, with its looping sense of time and fractured narrative structure. But there is an enduring sense of an ungovernable world unraveling, even as the disparate strands of this deeply affecting novel finally converge.”—Paste

“In finely calibrated prose, this stirring novel plumbs the fates of those who struggled against the Colombian political upheaval that began in the ‘90s.”—O Magazine

“Relentlessly rewarding . . . with traces of Gabriel García Márquez’s News of a Kidnapping, Pachico’s unapologetically immersive first novel brings life to a South American struggle often forgotten in global headlines.”—Booklist

“Riveting . . . Having lived in Colombia until she turned eighteen, Pachico has a firsthand connection to the country’s charms and troubles that shines through on every gripping page.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Julianne Pachico’s tough and stunning novel set in both the Colombian and New York drug jungles kept this reader up all night and made her double-check that her front door was locked tight.”—Lily Tuck, National Book Award–winning author of The News from Paraguay and The Double Life of Liliane
Julianne Pachico grew up in Cali, Colombia, and lived there until she was eighteen. She is currently completing a Ph.D. in creative writing at the University of East Anglia in England. Her story “Honey Bunny” appeared in The New Yorker, and two of her stories have been anthologized in Best British Short Stories 2015.
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Title:The Lucky Ones: A NovelFormat:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 18.54 × 5.83 × 0.97 inPublished:March 7, 2017Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0399588655

ISBN - 13:9780399588655

Reviews

Read from the Book

Lucky2003VALLE DEL CAUCAHer parents and brother are spending the holiday weekend up in the mountains; they’re going to a party at the Montoyas’ country house. Before getting into the car her mother asks her one last time: Is she sure she doesn’t want to come? Isn’t she going to be bored all weekend, with only the maid around to keep her company? And she says of course not, don’t be silly, and in any case the impossibly long drive on that endlessly winding road always makes her carsick (she shakes her head, sticks out her tongue, and makes a face like she can already feel the nausea). She’s been there several times anyway, remembers what it’s like: She’s seen the automatic shampoo ­dispensers in the bathroom that fill her hands with grapefruit-­scented foam, the shiny mountain bikes that have never been ridden propped up on the porch, the indoor fishpond and the seashell-­patterned ashtrays. Her brother will run around the yard screaming with the other kids, weaving and ducking around the water fountains and angel statues, begging the gardeners to let them feed the peacocks, hold the monkey, cuddle the rabbits. She always gets so bored, sitting in a white plastic chair and batting away flies while the adults drink beer out of green glass bottles and talk, talk, talk for hours about things she either doesn’t care about or doesn’t understand. When she hears the word guerrilla she’ll picture a group of men dressed up in gorilla suits, roaming the jungle while carrying rifles, wearing black rubber boots with yellow bottoms, and she’ll have to choke back laughter to prevent Coca-­Cola from snorting out of her nose. The sinewy meat and burnt black corn from the grill always get stuck in her teeth and hang down from her upper molars like vines for Tarzan, and she’ll inevitably end up prodding them with her tongue for the rest of the weekend. Mariela Montoya will be there too, of course, most likely wearing an oversized T-­shirt, glowering in the corner, sucking on the tip of her long black braid, and they’ll turn away from each other gracefully without even a kiss on the cheek, let alone a greeting. Hi, Mariela, Stephanie will never say. It’s been so long. How have you been?So no, she tells her mother again, but thank you very much, and she brushes strands of hair away from her eyes, smiling sweetly.“Fine, then,” her mother says, a little sharply. “You’re lucky Angelina was willing to cancel her weekend off and stay here instead. Was that church thing of hers tomorrow or next week?” She says this last part to her husband, who shrugs without looking up, still fiddling with the car radio knobs. One of the announcers is saying in a highly amused voice, Communist rebels? Those words don’t even mean anything anymore. You might as well call them cheese sandwich rebels. Her brother makes a face at her through the car window and she makes a face right back.“Well,” her mother says. “Since you’re going to be here all weekend—­just keep something in mind.” She glances over her shoulder at the hedge, leaves barely rustling in the wind. The sweat stains in the armpits of her pale green blouse look like tiny islands.“If the phone rings,” she says, “or the doorbell sounds—­let Angelina deal with it. And make sure she tells any men who ask that we’re not in the country anymore. Could you do that for me?”“What kind of men?” she asks.Her mother tucks a strand of hair behind her ears—­brown like hers, but gray at the roots. “You know what kind I mean,” she says in her soft accent.So they want their revolution? the radio asks. Listen, I’ll tell you what I’d do to them! Her mother’s head flicks sharply toward her husband, and he quickly switches it off.After they drive away she finds her mother’s cigarettes almost immediately, hidden at the bottom of one of the woven baskets Angelina brought back from her village marketplace. She smokes one under the trees by the pool, taking quick little puffs, watching carefully for Angelina at the window. What she didn’t tell her mother is that she has plans to meet up with Katrina in the city center mall on Monday. Katrina’s chauffeur will take them there and drop them off at the entrance, where they’ll hover just long enough to make sure he’s gone. Then they’ll cross the highway together, ducking fast across the busy intersection, laughing and running past the wooden sticks of chicken sweating on grills and giant metal barrels of spinning brown peanuts, the clown-­faced garbage cans and men in zebra costumes directing traffic. The plan is to head to the other mall across the street, the one with the upper floors still closed off with yellow electrical tape from when the last bomb went off. On the first floor is the food court that serves Cuban sandwiches and beer in lava lamp containers. That’s where the members of the football team will be, dark hair slicked back and glistening. She and Katrina are going to sit at the wooden picnic tables and yank their jeans down as far as they can go, tug at their tank tops to reveal the bra straps underneath, peach and pink and black. She has this way of crossing her legs at the ankles, tilting her head to the side, and smiling as though whatever is being said is the most interesting thing in the world and there’s nowhere else she’d rather be. She’ll accept their smiles, their eyes scanning her up and down, their low murmurs of approval, even the breathy whispers of Hey, beautiful, with the same icy sense of destiny that she accepts everything else in her life.Later that night, instead of going through catalogs for college applications in the United States, she sits on the couch rereading one of the Arthurian fantasy novels from her childhood. It’s the kind filled with knights kneeling before queens and saying things like, My lady, perchance you have misunderstood me. Rereading kids’ books is one of her sneaky, most secret treats, saved for holiday weekends or summer vacations, something that someone like Katrina has no need to ever know about. As she reads she never needs to raise her eyes to know where Angelina is or what she’s doing—­the sound of her black plastic sandals slapping against the floor tiles is like a noise made by the house itself. Without looking she knows when Angelina’s opening the silverware drawer, lighting the candles to chase away flies, setting the last of the dishes on the table. The radio in the kitchen crackles loudly with static, which drowns out the newscasters’ gruff voices.She’s turning pages rapidly, eager to arrive at the climax (the knight finally encounters the magician who blessed him with shape-­shifting skills—­or did he curse him?), when she feels a stubby finger gently tracing her scalp. “We really need to fix your hair, mija,” Angelina says in that same shrill voice Stephanie’s been listening to her whole life. “It’s bad to have it in your eyes all the time like that.”“That won’t be necessary,” she says, not looking up from the page.When Angelina’s hands linger close to her face, she uses the book to push them away, ducking irritably from their overwhelming smell of onions and stale powdered milk. She turns a page as the sandals slap slowly back to the kitchen.During dinner she drips a giant spoonful of curry sauce onto her plate and swirls around the lettuce leaves and onion slices to make it look like she’s eaten something. When she pushes the chair back from the table, Angelina is already there, reaching for her plate with one hand and squeezing the flesh on her lower arm with the other. “My God but you’re skinny!” Angelina says in the same high-­pitched shrill. “Eat more! How are you going to fight off men?”“Could you please not touch me?” she says, jerking her arm away, but the tiny nugget of pleasure that’s formed inside her just from hearing the word skinny is already giving off warmth.Angelina says something else, speaking in a low voice this time, but her words are muffled beneath the trumpets of the national anthem blasting from the kitchen radio, in its usual slot just before the news.“What?” she says, but Angelina’s already abruptly turned away, her white apron swirling through the air like a cape.“Don’t worry about it, mija,” Angelina says, not looking back. “It’s nothing.”She doesn’t wake up till midmorning. Because Katrina won’t be coming by until Monday, she doesn’t shave her legs and wears a baggy pair of yellow basketball shorts instead of jeans. The day is already uncomfortably hot. She heads outside to the pool and smokes a cigarette under the grapefruit tree, careful to stand in the shade to protect her skin. It never feels like a holiday weekend to her until she’s smoked, until she gets that jumpy feeling in her stomach that makes her want to stand very still.Back in the kitchen, she opens the refrigerator and drinks directly from the pitcher of lemonade, careful not to bang her teeth against the ceramic. As she puts the pitcher on the counter there’s a loud blast of the doorbell. It echoes through the house, followed by six blunt buzzes, as though it’s a signal she should recognize.“Angelina!” she calls out. She waits but there’s no sound of sandals slapping against the floor tiles, heading to the front door.The buzzing is long and sustained this time. “Christ,” she says. “Angelina!” When she was very young she would stand in the middle of a room and scream Angelina’s name over and over again, not stopping until Angelina came running, apron flying out behind her, but that’s not the kind of silly, immature thing she would do now.She takes another long swig of lemonade to hide her cigarette breath, just in case it’s one of her mother’s friends. It would be just like her mother to send someone to check up on her. As she walks down the hallway it’s hard to decide what feels worse, the damp cloth of the T-­shirt sticking to her armpits or the sweaty bare skin of her collarbones. At the front door she runs her fingers through her hair, tucking it carefully behind her ears. Sometimes when she’s standing in the sunlight, if she tilts her head just right she can almost pass for blond.

Editorial Reviews

“Julianne Pachico’s The Lucky Ones offers a blunt, fresh and unsentimental look inside Colombia’s last thirty bloody years. . . . An enjoyable and freaky joy ride. . . . What really drew me in is her ability to describe emotions. . . . Pachico conveys the fear that Colombian children grow up with—she made that pit in my stomach open up again. . . . At the end you’ll come out of this ride with a better understanding of Colombia’s surreal state of affairs. . . . [She creates] a millennial’s view (not a criticism!) of the complexities of Colombia, full of existential angst and funny details. . . . Go to Pachico’s Colombia.”—Silvana Paternostro, The New York Times Book Review“[A] brilliantly wacked-out collection of linked stories about Colombia’s long civil war.”—New York“Thrilling . . . The Lucky Ones is no ordinary coming-of-age novel. Julianne Pachico’s remarkably inventive debut navigates what it means to grow up wealthy amid the reality of conflict in Colombia. . . . [It] roil[s] conventions of form and narrative . . . with plenty of twists and turns in between. . . . In tackling the challenge of delineating childhood life and brutal war, of untangling the ordinary and the extraordinary, Pachico dares to disorient her readers. . . . ‘History is and is not ephemeral; situations and events evaporate, but their moral and intellectual residue does not,’ Cynthia Ozick wrote in the introduction to her collection of essays Quarrel and Quandary. In The Lucky Ones, Pachico has shaped that residue into constantly surprising form. History, she recognizes, is only the beginning.”—The Atlantic   “Relentlessly rewarding . . . with traces of Gabriel García Márquez’s News of a Kidnapping, Pachico’s unapologetically immersive first novel brings life to a South American struggle often forgotten in global headlines.”—Booklist“An expansive tapestry of a debut.”—Elle“Mesmerizing . . . Even more than it eschews . . . easy answers, The Lucky Ones steadfastly eschews ease. Despite Pachico’s luminous writing, the specter of terror, of kidnapping, of who will be taken next makes The Lucky Ones an unsettling read. Its perpetual perch on the edge of disaster—both real and surreal—leaves the reader in a state of dread reminiscent of Nathan Englander’s Argentinian desaparecido novel, The Ministry of Special Cases. But the genius of The Lucky Ones is that Pachico creates a palpable anguish with a lighter touch than the gloom that hangs over Englander’s book. The Lucky Ones often feels playful, in part because it consists of interlocking short stories that have been shuffled out of sequence, requiring re-assembly to understand how they fit together. It almost seems like a book more easily understood backwards than forwards. . . . Nothing is conventionally cohesive in The Lucky Ones, with its looping sense of time and fractured narrative structure. But there is an enduring sense of an ungovernable world unraveling, even as the disparate strands of this deeply affecting novel finally converge.”—Paste   “In finely calibrated prose, this stirring novel plumbs the fates of those who struggled against the Colombian political upheaval that began in the ‘90s.”—O Magazine“Riveting . . . [A] carefully yet fiercely composed collage of voices that bears witness to the executions, forced disappearances, and other atrocities that took place in Colombia from 1993 to 2013 during the country’s violent civil war . . . [A] searing glimpse into the conflict . . . Having lived in Colombia until she turned eighteen, Pachico has a firsthand connection to the country’s charms and troubles that shines through on every gripping page.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)“Julianne Pachico’s tough and stunning novel set in both the Colombian and New York drug jungles kept this reader up all night and made her double-check that her front door was locked tight.”—Lily Tuck, National Book Award–winning author of The News from Paraguay and The Double Life of Liliane“Julianne Pachico takes a hammer and brings it down on the superficial gloss of history, piecing the fragments into a kaleidoscopic collage that tells a deeply observed, stylistically adventurous, and emotionally riveting story of people caught up in the violence of Colombia’s guerrilla insurgencies. Moving effortlessly between the surreal and the real, sometimes in the space of a single sentence, Pachico delivers one of the most original and mesmerizing debuts I’ve read in years.”—Marisa Silver, New York Times bestselling author of Little Nothing and Mary Coin“Every episode of The Lucky Ones enlivens and unsettles in its own way. Their cumulative power derives from the way they expose the fragility of any kind of security, and the interconnectedness of lives across gulfs of time and society. It’s a riveting work of fiction.”—James Scudamore, award-winning author of Heliopolis and The Amnesia Clinic“[An] unforgettable whirlwind of a debut . . . Taken alone—and some have been published as such—the chapters work as complete short stories, full worlds as vibrant and jarring as fever dreams. But together, they form something much larger, revealing a complicated and morally ambiguous web of interconnecting lives. Unsettling and pulsing with life; a brilliantly surreal portrait of life amid destabilizing violence.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)“The volatile, concentrated world of The Lucky Ones immediately surrounds the reader. We are compelled to follow Julianne Pachico deep into the fears, fantasies, and denials of her characters, whose susceptibilities we must recognize as our own.”—Lavinia Greenlaw, author of A Double Sorrow