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Amina Gautier

Podcast: Amina Gautier, author of The Best That You Can Do: Stories

On this episode of the Deerfield Public Library Podcast, we are honored to welcome author Amina Gautier to discuss her recently published collection of short stories, The Best That You Can Do (Soft Skull Press, 2024). 

Amina Gautier is one of the most prolific and acclaimed short story writers working today, and she lives in Chicago. 

The Best That You Can Do is a beautiful and wide-ranging collection, made up of what Gautier calls “very short fiction”—most of the 58 stories span only a few pages. This distilled form opens up lyrical explorations of Afro-Puerto Rican identity, the ups and fearful downs of romantic relationships, and political satires and counterfactuals in response to violence against Black bodies, among other concerns.

In this captivating conversation, Gautier also reflects movingly on how cultural forms from classic literature to Gen-X nostalgia both ironically comment on and inspire her characters to action. Explaining the title, she tells us:

“I’m always asking myself with fiction, “how do we get in our own way?” or “when we find ourselves trapped or in an inescapable space, what things can we do to try to claim agency or to try to free ourselves or try to find our way?” which evolved into the [new] collection: what is the best that we can do in any given situation?”

Listen to hear more from a master storyteller responding to her time. 

You can check out books by Amina Gautier through our library, or find out more on her website.

Amina Gautier is the author of the story collections At-Risk (2011), Now We Will Be Happy (2014), and The Loss of All Lost Things (2016). She is the recipient of the Blackwell Prize, the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s 21st Century Award, the International Latino Book Award, the Flannery O’Connor Award, and the Phillis Wheatley Award in Fiction. For her body of work, she received the prestigious PEN/MALAMUD Award for Excellence in the Short Story.

The Best That You Can Do was published as the winner of the inaugural Soft Skull-Kimbilio Publishing Prize. Kimbilio for Black Fiction is a community of writers and scholars committed to developing, empowering, and sustaining fiction writers from the African diaspora and their stories. 

We hope you enjoy our 62nd interview episode! Each month (or so), we release an episode featuring a conversation with an author, artist, or other notable guests from Chicagoland or around the world. Learn more about the podcast on our podcast page. You can listen to all of our episodes in the player below or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else you listen to podcasts. We welcome your comments and feedback—please send to

You can listen to all of our episodes in the player below.

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