Manuel Luis Martínez. Day of the Dead/ Día de los Muertos. ISBN 978-1-888205-19-0. $25.95.
This is the most riveting and complex narrative of the Mexican Revolution. "I am Berto Morales. I am the false son of a nameless and blind man. I am War. I took his land through a pretense. I am Pestilence. When his heir returned to claim his birthright, I killed him. I am Murder. His comrades returned to find me, and failing to do so, took the life of my wife and child. I was Love. I determined to meet injustice with injustice. I am Hatred. I brought war to those who ended my life. I am Executioner. I am guilty of sins that have no name. I have come to the slaughter uninvited and have determined to give my life freely." And so begins the saga of Berto Morales set during the Mexican Revolution, the landscape of Day of the Dead is littered with the victims of a brutal war, one populated by a cast of villains, saints, heroes, and ordinary people whose roles are often impossible to reconcile. It is 1913 when Berto returns to his small Oaxacan ranch to find that his beloved wife, six months with child, has been brutally murdered. Devastated, he sets out to find the murderers and exact revenge, but what he will find on this journey is that justice is elusive, much more so than vengeance. Tracking the murderer, the elusive Barbon to Mexico City, Berto meets the idealistic Isabella, herself a victim of the brutality of war. She has decided to enter the fray to honor the memory of her dead husband and their shared vision of a just and democratic Mexico. In the midst of his vendetta, Berto must decide whether to follow in the path of avenging his cruel losses, or to offer himself to Isabella and her child Victoriana as a guide and protector. Plunging headlong into this maelstrom of violence and tragedy, Berto Morales will confront a fate that holds out the possibility of an unlikely redemption—and perhaps a new life—while threatening a judgment too terrible to withstand.
"Martínez continues his fine writing on Day of the Dead, and offers further proof of the wide range of Chicano literature. The reader will acknowledge that our ties to tradition serve as a most appropriate title on this tightly-written work ." Rolando Hinojosa
"In his novels Manuel Martinez writes the naked truth, and he does so twice: once when he relates the almost unknown American history of underprivileged Mexican immigrants, who never had the power or status to tell their unbelievably courageous and human stories themselves; and a second time when he makes us confront questions of identity, morality, justice and vengeance that are as relevant to anyone living in present day America and the world as they are to his protagonists. In Day of the Dead, Martinez executes this feat in clean, compassionate prose, poignantly direct and lacking in clichés." Assaf Gavron, has published four novels, a collection of short stories. His fiction has been translated into German, Russian, Italian, French, English and more, won prizes, was adapted for the stage, and optioned several times for movies.
Manuel Luis Martínez serves as an associate professor of twentieth century American literature, American studies, Chicano/Latino studies, and creative writing, and is the current Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Ohio State University. He earned a doctorate from Stanford University in 1997. His novels are Crossing, 1998 which was chosen as one of ten outstanding books by PEN American, which was chosen as one of the best books of 2004 by the American Library Association. www.manuelmartinez.info.
I’m a writer and professor of American and Chicano literature at Ohio State University in Columbus. My first two novels are called Crossing, and Drift. My latest novel, Day of the Dead, was published in 2010.
My PhD in English is from Stanford University. My Masters in Creative Writing is from Ohio State. My BA in History and English is from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, my hometown. Most recently, I was named the Dobie Paisano Writing Fellow by the Texas Institute of Letters. I’m spending four months as the sole occupant of the Dobie Paisano Ranch, a 250-acre hill country retreat where all I do is write and enjoy the scenic views.
My work is dedicated to bringing the voices of the rarely-heard, out into the public sphere. My stories come from my past, the westside barrio of my youth, the tales my abuelitos and abuelitas told about their migrant lives, the music my father played, the faith of my mother. They’re stories of flawed and damaged people looking to do more than survive.
Other title by:
Martinez, Manuel Luis. Los Duros. ISBN: 978-1497473553 $24.95
“This is a joint publication of Floricanto and Berkeley Presses. Los Duros is a destitute colonia suffocating in the brutal heat of the Mojave Desert. Families must live without running water or electricity as they attempt to survive on the edge of the Salton Sea, a toxic lake where dead fish rot and poisons pollute the shore. The reality of living in the shanty wastelands of the affluent jewel cities of southern California threatens to destroy two young men living in desperate poverty and abandonment. On a night of unthinkable violence, Banger and Tarasco will be thrust together as they confront the tragic circumstances that threatens to claim them as two more squandered casualties to the callous indifference suffered by those forced to live in the shadows. Guillermo, an idealistic teacher, and Juan, the long-absent father of one of the boys, are desperate to help them when Banger and Tarasco become suspects in a local arson and double-murder. Los Duros examines the role of fate in the lives of a generation of forgotten children; can love achieve redemption for a tortured father and raise the hope that origin does not constitute destiny? This is a crucial and timely story of a place that seems far away, but exists in the darkest recesses of our America and its dissipated dream.