‘Lucky’ by Julianne Pachico

Stephanie Lansky is a privileged child in a dangerous country. Her parents, whom she has overheard dismissing rumours of guerrillas and civil war, leave to visit rich, powerful friends in the countryside. They never return. The domestic staff disappear. The telephones stop working. The power stops. By the time a man dressed in rags appears at the door and invites Stephanie to leave with him, we understand that everything is about to be taken away from her. ‘Lucky’ is part of Pachico’s interlinked short story collection The Lucky Ones, set in Colombia between 2003 and 2013. Context is slowly drip-fed into these stories – including ‘Lucky’ – and you come to understand the Colombian conflict through diverse, distorted perspectives. The stories don’t pretend to present a cohesive picture of Colombia’s civil conflict, but the implicit arguments concerning power and privilege that underly it are consistent and powerful. Reading ‘Lucky’, the complexity of my feelings about Stephanie – she is spoiled, sympathetic, infuriatingly helpless, half-innocent – speaks to the depth of Pachico’s understanding of the world she is describing.

First published in The Lucky Ones, Faber & Faber, 2017, and available to read on the Faber website here

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