Mark Brazaitis’ The River of Lost Voices: Stories from Guatemala (winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award) is a collection that captures Guatemala’s beauty and, perhaps inevitably, its day-to-day terror, beginning with José de Río: “Born dead,” he silently watches his father kill ruthlessly and his mother die at the hands of guerrillas. Then there’s Saida, a young woman from Santa Cruz who plays basketball, looks for love, and inherits a hotel by happenstance. River, written by D.C. native and former Peace Corps volunteer Brazaitis, offers glimpses of lives that are magical without being fantastic. The collection’s comical and precious moments are sometimes especially gratifying because they’re set in mountains that have seen indecent poverty and violence. Often Brazaitis’ multilayered writing is best when it reminds us that young people in Guatemala dream, too, perhaps with greater urgency than their peers in the North. Brazaitis reads from and signs copies of River at 7:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 3040 M St. NW. Free. (202) 965-9880. (John Dugan)