If you've been following for a while, you'll know that we love to inject a good dose of historical fiction into your reading program every now and again. Bonus points if it's a reclamation of lost history told by a woman of colour. And icing on the cake if it's written in lush, page-turning prose that makes you forget the history lesson you’re getting. This month's selection, a debut novel by Kali Fajardo-Anstine which took over a decade to write, ticks all of these boxes and some. We couldn’t have loved it more.
Woman of Light is an epic saga spanning five generations of an Indigenous Chicano family in the American West. The central story is set in 1930s Denver - a place of deep segregation - and follows Luz Lopez, a tea leaf reader and laundress, who 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. Through her gift, Luz is able to connect with her ancestors and access lost family stories. In this way, the novel interrogates the mysterious and complicated ways the past informs the present. Combining vast research with an enthralling narrative, this is a story of betrayal, love, fate, survival, legacy and the persistence of storytelling - we were totally engrossed by it!
In a lovely everything-is-connected-and-books-are-magic moment, here is last month’s author endorsing this month’s:
“This indelible novel shines its big light on the Lopez family so brightly that I could draw a map of their breath. An absolutely glorious novel.” ~ Emma Straub