Woman of Light
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A “dazzling, cinematic, intimate, lyrical” (Roxane Gay) epic of betrayal, love, and fate that spans five generations of an Indigenous Chicano family in the American West, from the author of the National Book Award finalist Sabrina & Corina
“Sometimes you just step into a book and let it wash over you, like you’re swimming under a big, sparkling night sky.”—Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You
A PHENOMENAL BOOK CLUB PICK AND AN AUDACIOUS BOOK CLUB PICK • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Book Riot
There is one every generation, a seer who keeps the stories.
Luz “Little Light” Lopez, a tea leaf reader and laundress, is left to fend for herself after her older brother, Diego, a snake charmer and factory worker, is run out of town by a violent white mob. As Luz navigates 1930s Denver, she begins to have visions that transport her to her Indigenous homeland in the nearby Lost Territory. Luz recollects her ancestors’ origins, how her family flourished, and how they were threatened. She bears witness to the sinister forces that have devastated her people and their homelands for generations. In the end, it is up to Luz to save her family stories from disappearing into oblivion.
Written in Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s singular voice, the wildly entertaining and complex lives of the Lopez family fill the pages of this multigenerational western saga. Woman of Light is a transfixing novel about survival, family secrets, and love—filled with an unforgettable cast of characters, all of whom are just as special, memorable, and complicated as our beloved heroine, Luz.
LONGLISTED FOR THE JOYCE CAROL OATES PRIZE • LONGLISTED FOR THE CAROL SHIELDS PRIZE FOR FICTION
Fajardo-Anstine's impressive if underdeveloped debut novel (after the collection Sabrina & Corina) recounts the harrowing multigenerational adventures of a family originating in the "Lost Territory" of late 19th-century New Mexico and arriving in Denver by the 1930s. Depictions of the Lost Territory are vivid and well-informed. Pidre Lopez, the family's anchor and a Puebloan Indigenous person, settles in Animas, Co., where he runs a Wild West show. The author describes it wonderfully: "a pistol crack, a long rifle's pinging bullet, the exasperated neigh of a horse." The narrative centers for the most part on seer Luz "Little Light" Lopez, who leads a hardscrabble life in 1930s Denver with her aunt Maria Josie and her brother, Diego, a snake charmer and womanizer. Luz entrances with visions dredged from reading tea leaves, but her gift of seeing often portends ominous circumstances such as racist violence from the KKK. Luz uses her family connections to become a secretary in a law office where she finds herself in a love triangle with her attorney boss and a young mariachi musician. Unfortunately, Fajardo-Anstine's Denver lacks the same historical precision she gives to the Lost Territory portions, and is limited to a few plugged-in period details. Despite the uneven effort, it's clear this author has talent to spare.