The People Who Report More Stress

Publication Date:

April 2023



Original language and publisher

English (USA) | Astra House

Territories Handled

World excl. North America


Literary Fiction, Short Stories


  • Aspen Words Literary Prize 2024 (longlisted)
  • The Story Prize 2024 (longlisted)

The People Who Report More Stress


These stories are full of insight, humor, and surprise. —Electric Literature

This book is brilliant, layered, funny, and so insightful about the way communities, like hearts, are made and unmade. I loved it. Alejandro Vaerlo is a marvel. — Justin Torres, author of We the Animals

This collection is full of vivid characters who resemble many people in my own life. These stories are funny, insightful and are, at times, cheeky AF! You can’t help but relish in them. — Rosa Hernandez, Marketing Manager at Third Place Books

In The People Who Report More Stress, Alejandro Varela cracks the veneer of gay domesticity to reveal the intricacies of anxiety and lust, bewilderment and promise, shelter and placelessness in everyday urban life. In linked stories driven by frenzied interior monologue and roving analytical glee, Varela pivots from the rules of bathroom cruising to the legacies of colonialism in international relations, the hustle of selling bootleg designer clothes to the racial hierarchies of Brooklyn gentrification. Moving deftly between satire and hyperrealism, comic excess and mundane pathos, The People Who Report More Stress dissects the minutiae of relationships to self, city, space, and sensibility so we don’t numbly succumb to the ‘structured order of things.’ —Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, author of The Freezer Door

Alejandro Varela’s The People Who Report More Stress effortlessly walks the line between humor and grief to create a portrait of modern queer life that is at once absurd and deeply sincere. These stories capture the small, lonely moments of everyday life, the rejections and misunderstandings and longings that make up great fiction. Varela can do anything. — Isle McElroy, author of The Atmospherians and People Collide

Alejandro Varela is one of my favorite short story writers, and has been for years. Time after time, the mix of curiosity, humor and care in these stories reminds me of the parts of my life no one else writing currently describes. An iconoclast of tenderness, a compass in the storm this life always is. — Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

Varela has written a collection that is mordant, tender, and hilariously self-critical. These stories navigate the myriad creases between lust and longing, love and proprietorship, without resorting to sanctimony. This is an incredible feat of wry sincerity. — Zain Khalid, author of Brother Alive

Having debuted with The Town of Babylon, recently long-listed for the 2022 National Book Award for Fiction, Varela returns with a collection of interconnected stories focusing with bite and humor on parenting, relationships, racism, and class conflict. — Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

A searing collection about gentrification, racism, and sexuality. […] Varela provides invaluable insight on the ways stress impacts the characters’ lives, and how they persevere. Readers will be floored. — Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

The prose shines throughout, with razor-sharp specificity about human nature and an entrancing rhythm… the collection shows a writer of impressive imagination continuing to deepen his craft. — Kirkus Reviews

This collection of linked stories gives a vivid and unforgettable voice to the anxieties of people whose experiences are frequently marginalized, from a struggling New York restaurant employee to a Selena-obsessed childcare worker and a man intent on speed-dating after the end of a long-term relationship. — Emma Specter, Vogue

Varela’s stories are provocative and witty; while eliciting chuckles they also dispense uncomfortable truths that everyone thinks about but won’t address out loud. —Andrienne Cruz, Booklist

“With his debut novel The Town of Babylon, Alejandro Varela announced himself as a unique and compelling voice in literary fiction. His new collection of short stories, The People Who Report More Stress, only cements that reputation . . . a prismatic engagement with the possibilities and limitations of identity, and a reckoning with the way stress manifests itself across class lines.” —Sarah Neilson, them

Varela writes about small moments in a big way, and can treat remarkable moments a bit more matter-of-fact. This gives his collection a surprising sense of propulsion and poetic realness, that will entirely captivate you.”—Michelle C., Powells

For readers of A Lucky Man and Heads of the Colored People and fans of Bryan Washington and Jenny Zhang.

A collection of connected stories examining issues of parenting, systemic and interpersonal racism, and class conflict in gentrified Brooklyn.

The People Who Report More Stress is a collection of interconnected stories about a man named Eduardo. A deeply introspective, class-jumping, gay, Latinx public health advocate living in Brooklyn, Eduardo is all too aware of the stress that both hierarchy and capitalism are taking on his body.

In “The Six Times of Alan,” a brown-skinned parent of an adopted child with a deeper brown shade of skin finds himself in a dilemma—what to do about a simple conflict between his kid and the white child of another parent at the park who has framed his son as a menace.

In “Midtown-West Side Story,” Álvaro, a restaurant worker struggling to support his family, begins selling high-end designer clothes to his co-workers, friends, neighbors, and the restaurant’s regulars that he gets at warehouse prices out of a Hoboken basement from his shady friend, known only as “El Flaco.”

Speaking to issues of parenting, systemic and interpersonal racism, and class conflict, Alejandro Varela deftly and poignantly expresses the frustration of knowing the problems and solutions to our society’s inequities, but not being able to do anything about them

“I see Varela’s writing as a modern, urban entry in the tradition of works like John Cheever’s The Stories of John Cheever or Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love—a tradition kept alive by writers like Teju Cole in Every Day is for the Thief and Jamel Brinkley in A Lucky Man.”—Danny Vazquez, acquiring editor at Astra House

Marketing Information

    • LOT/Bryan Washington
    • A LUCKY MAN/Jamel Brinkley
    • HEADS OF THE COLORED PEOPLE/Nafissa Thompson-Spires
    • SOUR HEART/Jenny Zhang
  • Made it onto the Publishers Lunch “Buzz Books” lists “Emerging Voices”.
  • Featured in the Library Journal “Sailing into 2023” February 2023 issue, “Short Story Collections”.
  • Listed in “The Best LGBTQ+ Books of 2023 (So Far)” from Vogue, in “23 New Books Out Today” from Literary Hub, in “6 New Books to Read in April” from ALL ARTS, in the Lambda Literary list of “April Most Anticipated LGBTQIA+ Books”, “25 LGBTQ+ Books You’ll Want To Add To Your TBR List In 2023” from
  • One of the featured authors for the Brooklyn Book Festival Author Reveal
  • Interview in New Books Network podcast “Writing Latinos”
  • Highlighted as part of the “La Comunidad Reads” event series with Lupita Aquino in a segment for Telemundo Washington DC
  • The author’s personal essay titled “Hecho en El Salvador” was published on Guernica 
  • Included in The Austin Chronicle‘s roundup of Texas Book Festival featured authors.
  • Highlighted by “The Stacks” host Traci Thomas on WBUR’s “Here and Now” segment “For Hispanic Heritage Month, pick up a book highlighting Latinx writers and stories.”
  • Included in the Goodreads list of “54 New Books to Discover This Hispanic Heritage Month” published on September 14, 2023
  • Included in the Powell’s Blog list of “15 New Fiction Books for Hispanic and Latine Heritage Month 2023” published on September 15, 2023
  • Featured in Poets & Writers
  • Included in the Publishers Weekly best books of 2023 published on October 27, 2023
  • Featured in Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books 2023: “Must-Read Books of 2023: Fiction”
  • Selected for Electric Literature’s “Best Short Story Collections of 2023
  • Included in “The Latinidad List, the best Latino books of 2023” curated by Marcela Landres
  • Alejandro Varela discussed The Town of Babylon and The People Who Report More Stress on the Wild Precious Life podcast available to stream on December 12, 2023
  • The Millions has published Alejandro Varela’s “Year in Reading” column, which features a shout out to “the madcap fun of Melissa Lozada-Oliva’s CANDELARIA” (9781662601804) published on December 19, 2023
  • Called by Greg Mania one of his top 30 books of 2023 on his substack SOS (Save Our Serotonin) published on December 28, 2023
  • Goodreads: “Our Favorite Book Titles from 2023”
  • Publishers Weekly: “Best fiction books of 2023”

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