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The book of lamentations
Rosario Castellanos
Adult Fiction CASTELL

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From Publishers' Weekly:

A classic of Mexican literature since its publication in 1962, this historical epic appears in its first English translation with fortuitous timing. It takes place in the impoverished southern Mexican state of Chiapas, where, since 1994, Mayan rebels known as the Zapatistas have won sympathetic media attention for their grievances against the Mexican government. Castellanos (1925-1974) takes events that occurred in 1712 and 1868 and resets them in the 1930s to create a complex tale of race, class and gender. Constructing an entire provincial society, she portrays macho landowners, exploited Indians, submissive wives, misguided politicians and corrupt religious officials clashing with one another and among themselves in a thirst for power. At the center of the landowners' elite circle is political aspirant Leonardo Cifuentes, who incites fear and hatred of the Indians, claiming they pollute the region's civic, moral and religious values. The indigenous community, long abused by the landowners, revolves around Catalina, an ilol, or prophet, who instigates a rebellion when she creates a cult around three stone idols. The major confrontation occurs at Easter, when indigenos crucify a boy conceived in a rape of a young Indian girl by Cifuentes years before. The novel features intriguing interior monologues and indirect discourse, but the third-person omniscient narration doesn't quite unite the many characters and plot lines or satisfactorily compress the immense volume of historical detail into digestible form. Still, this is an always panoramic and often moving novel that brings Mexico's turmoil to complex, tragic life. (Dec.) FYI: In 1974, Castellanos was electrocuted while trying to plug in a lamp in Israel, where she served as Mexico's ambassador. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Although several of Castellanos's works have been translated into English (Nine Guardians, Readers International, 1992), she has not enjoyed the acclaim in this country as have Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende. Yet this novel, originally published in 1962, with its lush prose and bleak characterizations, predates both authors. Set in the 1930s in the Mexican state of Chiapas, it is a dark epic of oppression, greed, and genocide, climaxing with an Indian uprising and a harrowing ritual crucifixion of a child. All the characters, from the Maya leader and the richest landowner, to the Indians and townspeople who form a tragic chorus, contribute to a quest for power that leads to death. Castellanos's narrative is intricately layered and her characters are finely crafted. Highly recommended.‘Ellen Flexman, Indianapolis-Marion Cty. P.L., Ind. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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more titles about

main characters Catalina Diaz Piulia
Female
Mayan
Prophet

Fernando Ulloa
Male
Married
Civil servant

Julia Acevedo
Female
Married
Sexual; unfaithful.

Manuel Mandujano
Male
Catholic
Ambitious.
Priest

Idolina
Female
Ruling class; vengeful.



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