- Pedido anticipado
The beguiling story of a young journalist whose investigation of a murder leads her to the most legendary healer in all of Mexico, from one of the most prominent voices of a new generation of Latin American writers
Paloma is dead. But before she was murdered, before she was even Paloma, she was a traditional healer named Gaspar. Before she was murdered, she taught her cousin Feliciana the secrets of the ceremonies known as veladas, and about the Language and the Book that unlock their secrets.
Sent to report on Paloma’s murder, Zoe meets Feliciana in the mountain village of San Felipe. There, the two women’s lives twist around each other in a danse macabre. Feliciana tells Zoe the story of her struggle to become an accepted healer in her community, and Zoe begins to understand the hidden history of her own experience as a woman, finding her way in a hostile environment shaped by and for men.
Weaving together two parallel narratives that mirror and refract one another, this extraordinary novel envisions the healer as storyteller and the writer as healer, and offers a generous and nuanced understanding of a world that can be at turns violent and exultant, cruel and full of hope.
“A story of the world’s repeated failure to control feminine power and the sheer magic of language itself. An enthralling, passionate story about secrets both holy and profane.” —Catherine Lacey, author of Pew and Nobody Is Ever Missing
Mexican writer Lozano (Loop) delivers a layered narrative about healers, storytelling, and family trauma. Feliciana is a curandera, or folk healer, living in a village in San Felipe, Mexico. Zoe, a 30-something Mexico City journalist exhausted by never-ending stories of femicide and rape, nevertheless feels obligated to cover them "from the trench dug at the newsroom," and agrees to report on the murder of Feliciana's cousin Paloma, also a curandera. Zoe is also eager to meet the famous Feliciana, despite having "never been into supernatural stuff." The author alternates between Zoe's urbane narration and transcriptions of her interviews with Feliciana, whose elliptical and mystical language makes for a sharp contrast. A story emerges of Feliciana's and Paloma's struggles to become curanderas in a male-dominated family (Paloma, a Muxe, or third-gendered Zapotec person, was assigned male at birth, and Feliciana's abilities don't match Paloma's, whom Feliciana claims could see the future "like it walked in front of her"). Feliciana demonstrates her power with Zoe, though, by helping her work through her sister's sexual abuse when they were teens. Lozano does a wonderful job distinguishing the disparate characters and their fluid identities, and Cleary's translation strikes the perfect balance of immersion and clarity. Powerful and complex, this marks a new turn from an intriguing writer.