Posted by Merry Mao on 7th September 2010
Title: Swift as Desire
Author: Laura Esquivel
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, August 2002
Summary: Swift as Desire focuses on Lluvia, a middle aged mother desperately trying to replay her entire life in order to understand her parents’ mutual anger for one another. Júbilo, her father, was born with an unmatched ability to communicate and understand through feeling rather than words, but is now confined to a bed and unable to speak due to Parkinson’s. Lluvia’s mother Lucha was a privileged beauty who gave up everything in order to marry Júbilo, but has now become cold and calculating. The story finds Lluvia desperate to understand her parents’ past and reconcile them before her father’s imminent death.
The story skips around in time, leaving the reader on edge throughout the entire book. The characters develop smoothly, and leave a deep impression. Nothing is as it seems with the family, which makes an unforgettable read. If readers are looking for another Like Water for Chocolate, they won’t find it here. Instead, they will find a brutally honest look into the closed doors of a marital relationship and a couple falling apart.
Who will like this book? Readers who are looking for a relatively short but still very engaging story. Those who are prepared to love and hate each and every character, sometimes at the same time, but still hope for a happy ending
If you liked this, try this: Like Water for Chocolate also by Esquivel
Recommended by: LB, Circulation Assistant
Tags: Communication, Family, Magic, Mexico, Parkinson's, Translated
Posted in Fiction, Latin American Literature | 1 Comment »
Posted by Merry Mao on 15th July 2010
Title: Island Beneath the Sea
Author: Isabel Allende
Publisher: Harper, April 2010
Summary: Island Beneath the Sea follows a young woman named Zarité thrown into slavery in 18th century Haiti. Known by most as Tété, she is chosen to become housekeeper for Toulouse Valmorain, an unpredictable plantation entrepreneur and his wife, Eugenia, a woman slowly being dissolved into madness by the harsh living conditions and constant threat of political uprisings. The story follows Tété, who is likeable and sweet, but also conflicted and strong, as she struggles to become a free woman while desperately trying to keep her family intact and protect all those who have helped her.
Staying true to her roots, Allende creates an emotional story of romance, politics, and fantasy using an outstanding cast of characters. At times, the book can be a roller coaster- the defeats are particularly harsh and the accomplishments incredibly satisfying, reminding the reader that life is not always just. At approximately 500 pages, be prepared to devote at least a few weeks to the book. The characters -since their relationships are generally unconfirmed and many appear sporadically- take some time to get to know, but it is well worth the effort.
Who will like this book? Those who like literature and character development- though not as tough as 100 Years of Solitude, a large number of characters come into play, and the book moves rather slowly at times (which is not a particularly bad thing!). Also, those who like reading about exotic places, history, and politics. Similar books would include Honolulu by Alan Brennert and Portrait in Sepia, also by Allende.
If you like this, try this: Honolulu by Alan Brennert, Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende, Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea
Recommended by: LB, Circulation Assistant
Tags: 2010 Releases, Cuba, Haiti, Louisiana, Magic, Slavery, War
Posted in Fiction, Historical, Latin American Literature, Literary, Politics | No Comments »
Posted by Merry Mao on 13th April 2010
Title: The Hummingbird’s Daughter
Author: Luis Alberto Urrea
Publisher: Little, Brown, May 2005
Summary: Set in the late 1800’s- early 1900’s, the book follows Teresita, a young girl in Mexico who has been abandoned by her poverty-stricken farm hand mother and given to her abusive aunt who can not afford to feed another child. Huila, an “ancient” religious medicine woman at the age of fifty, takes the child under her wing when she realizes that Teresita has also been given the gift of supernatural healing. Teresita soon discovers her true calling to take away the people’s suffering, and soon her life spirals out of control as word spreads all the way into North America about her abilities to heal the sick and wounded, as well as her outspoken liberal political views against the government and organized religion, which do not sit well with the already collapsing Conservative government and Roman Catholic church. This story follows Teresita until the age of twenty as she desperately tries to escape her destiny of martyrdom.
Beautifully written and rich in detail, Urrea makes this a quick 500-page read. Impossible to put down, the story will stay with you long after you’ve finished- especially when you discover she is based on a real person related to Urrea. Disturbing, exciting, and beautiful all at the same time.
Who will like this book? Fans of magical realist authors (such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Salman Rushdie) who are looking for a bit more realism than magic. If you enjoyed Into the Beautiful North, be prepared for a much darker, deeper and more mature look into human psychology, organized religion, and politics. It is NOT for those with weak stomachs.
Recommended By: LB, Circulation Assistant
Tags: Magic, Mexico, War
Posted in Fiction, Historical, Latin American Literature, Literary | 1 Comment »