Cyn Vargas Headshot
Hello I'm Cyn Vargas,

I write stories that explore what makes us human.

winner of the guild literary complex award in fiction &
semi-finalist of the Holland Prize in Fiction  

Illustrated typewriter
Best Short Story Collections of All Time
Illustrated opened book
Top 5 Fiction Books by Chicago Authors
Illustrated stacked books
Chicago’s Favorite Books of 2015
Illustrated feathered pen
Honorable Mention,
2015 Book of
the Year
Illustrated books on hand
11 Short Story Collections Your Book Club Will Love


Pre-sale from AmazonPre-sale from Tortoise Books

Release Date: May 14, 2024

Itzel’s 13th birthday party starts in just about the unluckiest way possible—with her dad having a heart attack. In those frantic moments, the piñata and the frosted sheetcake and the Styrofoam cups of orange soda are forgotten; the day’s highlights end up being CPR, an ambulance ride, and angioplasty. But when her father gets home from the hospital, his problems are far from over—and Itzel’s are just getting started.

Nothing’s Ever the Same chronicles a young girl’s coming of age in Chicago—growing up as her family grows apart. In masterful fashion, Cyn Vargas gives us a touching and memorable and universal story about a marriage on the brink and a teenager looking for love; it’s also a beautiful meditation on dysfunction and forgiveness, and all the times in life to which we can never return.

Cyn Vargas's debut explores the whims and follies of the heart.

When a mother disappears in Guatemala, her daughter refuses to accept she's gone; a divorced DMV employee falls in love during a driving lesson; a young girl shares a well-kept family secret; a bad haircut is the last straw in a crumbling marriage.

This elegant and lovely set of stories by a master of the craft won widespread praise in its first printing; this revised new edition promises to bring her work to the wider audience she deserves. Join us on this trip from the frozen north to the tropical south, and through the hopes and fears and dreams and visions that keep us cycling through new destinations and old.

Buy from AmazonBuy from Tortoise Books

About CYN

Cyn Vargas is an accomplished author and faculty member in short fiction at StoryStudio Chicago. Her short story collection, "On The Way," has garnered rave reviews from notable publications such as Shelf Awareness, Library Journal, Heavy Feather Review, and Necessary Fiction. The book has received several accolades, including being named one of Book Scrolling's Best Short Story Collections of All Time and earning recognition from Chicago Book Review and the Chicago Writers Association.

Cyn's writing has been featured in esteemed literary magazines including Split Lip Magazine, Word Riot, Chicago Reader Fiction Issue, Allium Magazine, and Hypertext Magazine, among others. She has been honored as a Top 25 Finalist and received Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers contests. Additionally, Cyn's work was selected as a Symphony Space Selected Short and was produced live on stage and made available as a podcast.

Beyond her writing accomplishments, Cyn is an esteemed member of the literary community. She serves on the Curatorial Board for the Ragdale Foundation and holds a position on the Board of Directors for Hypertext Studio. In recognition of her teaching excellence, she was voted Stories Matter Foundation's 2022 Instructor of the Year.

Cyn holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago and takes great pride in her heritage as a first-generation American with El Salvadoran and Guatemalan roots. Her upcoming novella, scheduled for release in spring 2024, will be published by Tortoise Books.


Cyn Vargas’ debut collection, On the Way, is marked by a sense of universal heartbreak and hope. In a dozen stories that quietly and considerately follow the lives of displaced, alienated Central Americans whose lives revolve around immigration, expatriation and escapes, Vargas shows how deeply many of the world’s upheavals affect individuals.

Vargas deftly uses a candid, unadorned voice to frame an often unkind world. Her hopeful conclusion in these tales, though, is that nobody is ever truly alone.
Josh Potter
In her debut collection, Vargas invests her characters with heart while ably articulating their missed connections. An American girl cannot accept her mother’s disappearance while they are visiting relatives in Guatemala; a young woman assaulted by her father after her parents’ divorce cannot forgive her mother for failing to intervene; a diffident DMV employee cannot speak out when he falls for a young woman taking a driving test. VERDICT Moving and accomplished.
Barbara Hoffert
One of the more recent short story collections to have made a major impact on me,  On the Way  is Vargas’ big debut and I was seriously impressed. Her characters are the stories, and nearly all of the stories follow some version of a loss or gain in life. Touching on those moments in life when you wish to act out but choose to stay in the shadows, this short collection of short stories is a perfect fit for any book club.
Alex Weiss
In this debut collection, Vargas manages to strip human connection down to its messy, infuriating, and ultimately beautiful core. With authentic prose, she straps relationships—familial, friendly, romantic, sexual—to chairs and shines on them a bright light, breaking each down with a calm, introspective interrogation until they reveal their secrets. Every story digs deep into what it means to be tethered to someone else in an honest, unrelenting way that will leave readers both squirming and desperately needing more.
On the Way is a group of stories that are often about loss, regret, and unrequited feelings. What almost every story demonstrates is the moment in a character’s life beyond which everything will have to change. However, one thing Vargas is willing to show—which many other writers are not—is the painful, often boundless stretch of time between the moment of drama and its distant resonance: her stories echo Alice Munro’s as they leapfrog months, even years, using nothing more than a paragraph break.
Heavy Feather Review
Her language feels like a colorful swirl, whether it illustrates sunny Guatemala or gritty Chicago. Her writing veers between brusque and elaborate sentences, third and first person, but never feels prescribed, always appropriate and real. She’s got, quite simply, a way with words.
Newcity Lit
These stories are complex and full-bodied, heady with sensual details and rich with character. Vargas’ writing style is on lockdown, and her exceptional prose will leave readers of all ages thoroughly satisfied.

Chicago Literati
Cyn Vargas has the ability to capture dreamily-fleeting moments other writers overlook. Cyn’s debut collection showcases her sharp humor and keen observations. The stories explore men and women, parents and children, immigrants, abuse, and the struggles of first-generation Americans. Her stories shift elegantly from humorous to gut-wrenching.
Hypertext Magazine
The prose in Cyn Vargas’s debut collection, On the Way, has a casual, unforced power. Vargas is a writer capable of sketching out a setting in a few short sentences, and this skill with compression allows her to present a much wider array of fictional worlds than one might expect from such a slim volume.
The first word that came to mind after reading this collection was graceful. Cyn Vargas puts the reader in an immediate state of self-reflection with her stories. If you can stand some self-reflection on loneliness, childhood, marriage, and family secrets, then this book will not disappoint you.
Staff Pick, Greenlight Bookstore
The narrators of Cyn Vargas’s stories tell quiet, deceptively simple accounts of loss, family mysteries, and their earned understanding of their experiences. The stories in On the Way are simple in language and prose style and complex in their emotional freight… Like the balance of the stories, the reader is on sure footing from the first paragraphs. A story map is laid out, and even if we don’t know the path we will follow, the territory and the perspective are well defined. No person is just one thing, Vargas seems to say. We seem to be this, but then we learn more, and discover we are something elseinstead. Each narrator has a story they know to tell, but a second story bleeds through, a story that speaks of darkness, fear, compassion, or courage, a story that reveals itself in the act of telling.
Necessary Fiction
First: I flat-out love this book. I do. Second: I love that Cyn Vargas is in the world to have written this book. She’s a mischievously good writer who lures you in with her humor and then breaks your heart in these generous and compelling stories about good people who are often haunted by what’s missing in their lives. Third: If you are reading this, start reaching for your credit card. I want you to buy this book. It’ll be the best decision you’ve made in a long, long time. Trust me.
JOHN MCNALLY, author of The Book of Ralph
Cyn Vargas brings her readers a whole world of unforgettable women, old and young, tough andgetting tougher. Her narrators must continually negotiate with the tragedy, cruelty, and sweetness oftheir ever-changing lives, against the twin landscapes of America and Central America. In these fresh,sensual stories, Vargas bravely explores family, friendship and irreconcilable loss, and she will break your heart nicely.
BONNIE JO CAMPBELL, author of the bestselling novel, Once Upon a River
It’s rare for stories about childhood, friendship, the elderly, marriage, family secrets, and loneliness and longing to be told with quiet beauty and grace, but the stories in ON THE WAY accomplish just that. Cyn Vargas approaches her characters with a delicate and loving hand, always honest, sometimes angry, but never judgmental. Just like how we approach the people we love – whether we’re bound to them by blood or by choice.
MARK PROTOSEVICH screenwriter, I Am Legend, Oldboy, The Cell