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When the ground turns in its sleep
Sylvia Sellers-Garcia
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From Publishers' Weekly:

As Sellers-Garcia's rich debut opens in 1993, Nitido Aman is seeking his origins in Guatemala following his father's death by spending a year as a teacher in the remote village of Rio Roto. His father had said that the Am ns came from a place "very near there," but was never specific as to the family's home village. Upon arrival, Nitido is immediately mistaken for an arriving priest and is too tired at first to correct the man who meets his bus and settles him in the sacristry. When, the next morning, his innocent questions about the burned schoolhouse and the path to a certain village are met with evasion, stony silence and worse, Nitido begins to suspect that Rio Roto hides a deep trauma. On the third morning, when he is suddenly called in to give a woman last rites, Nitido, for reasons even he doesn't fully understand, tacitly accepts the role of priest. In a moving tale of mourning and revelation, Sellers-Garcia puts Nitido's secret and hidden origins on a slow-motion collision course with the secrets of the town. While the pace is slowed by Nitido's letters to his dead father, this spare and vivid debut brings together wrenching personal and political histories. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In her debut novel, Sellers-Garcia draws from her own experience as a transnational whose cultural identity springs from both the United States and Central America. This beautiful and only partly fictional account features Nitido Aman, an American born in Guatemala. His parents were always kind, but it was clear that discussions about the past were forbidden. A twist of fate leads Nitido to a remote village in Guatemala's highlands, where he is mistaken for a visiting priest. Having lived through years of horrific guerilla warfare, the villagers each have a cache of unspoken terror. Familiar with his parents' conspiracy of silence, Nitido is not confounded by what he encounters among the villagers of Rio Roto; their silence staves off what they cannot bear. Sellers-Garcia succeeds in evoking the scent of the mud and the sound of the sugar cane swaying in the wind. Likewise, she reveals the details of the past ever so slowly, so that we gradually come to understand the paralyzing fear the people had to endure. Unsettling, evocative, and fascinating, this is a well-drawn portrait of a time and place very, very different from our own. Highly recommended for collections of literary fiction, especially those with an interest in Central America. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 8/07]-Susanne Wells, P.L. of Cincinnati and Hamilton Cty., OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Nitido Aman
Raised in the United States by his immigrant parents; father recently passed away from Alzheimer's; determined to find out his family's past and origins; pretends to be a priest.

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