We’re excited to share that our October Book Club selection is Beth Alvarado’s new linked story collection Jillian in the Borderlands, forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press on October 20, but available to Rumpus Book Club members in just a few weeks!
Jillian Guzmán, who is nine years old at the beginning of the book, communicates through drawings rather than speech as she travels with her mother, Angie O’Malley, throughout the borderlands of Arizona and northwestern Mexico. Later she creates survival maps for border crossers and paints murals at the Casa de los Olvidados, a refuge in Sonora run by the traditional healer Juana of God.
These darkly funny tales, focusing on Mexican-American, Euro-American, and Mexican characters, feature visionary experiences, ghosts, faith healers, a deer’s head that speaks, a dog who channels spirits of the dead—and a young woman whose drawings begin to create realities instead of just reflecting them.
“With stunning buoyancy, these linked stories build a world of hope and magic, while challenging the hardships humans so often create for themselves, in unison, in love and loss. Alvarado has crafted a world one wants to sink into, full of empathy, sly humor, beauty and charm, while also looking directly at the question of what it means to be human in a world of humans, in spirit and body, roaming the margins together.” – Monica Drake, author of The Folly of Loving Life
“With the ecstatic knowledge of an ancient curandera and the playful, storytelling prowess of a child, Alvarado travels great distances, bears witness, presages problems, and intuits solutions. She isn’t just at the forefront of white writers writing about race, she’s at the forefront of people writing about what it means to be human and how we might survive our own dangerous shortcomings. Masterful and original, her voice has been here since the before-time; in a world that needs healing and vision more than ever, it would behoove us all to listen.” – Jennifer Tseng, author of Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness
Subscribe to the Rumpus Book Club by September 15 to join us in reading Jillian in the Borderlands, culminating in an exclusive online discussion with author Beth Alvarado about the book!