‘The Stolen Party’ by Liliana Heker, translated by Alberto Manguel

As I compile this list, I realize how much I gravitate towards stories of childhood and class. ‘The Stolen Party’ is a story about Rosaura, the daughter of a rich family’s maid who is invited to a birthday party for the family’s daughter. Rosaura, who goes to work with her mom and does homework with the family’s daughter, wants to attend because she believes she is friends with the rich girl and wants to celebrate. The mother is skeptical, even discourages her from going, calling it a rich people’s party. Rosaura is insistent that she is a friend and not a servant, both to her mother and eventually, another child at the party. I will spare you a full synopsis of the story, but I will say that this story depletes me in a powerful way. It is short, six pages or so, but it is cinematic in its movement through the birthday party, the expansive sensory details and childlike wonder at the events – events that might be mundane told from an adult’s point of view. This is a story not just of class, but of class straddling – the way oppressive structures are imposed even in the quietest of moments, the happiest of birthdays, and onto the youngest and gentlest of hearts.

Published in The Stolen Party and Other Stories, Passport Books, 1994

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