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Tales from the Town of Widows: And Chronicles from the Land of Men

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Tales from the Town of Widows: And Chronicles from the Land of Men Cover

ISBN13: 9780061140389
ISBN10: 0061140384
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In the small Colombian mountain village of Mariquita, a band of guerrillas storms in to protest the country's ruling government. They arrive with propaganda and guns, and when they depart they have forcibly recruited all the town's men, leaving behind only a few — the priest and a young, fair-skinned boy disguised as a little girl.

In their wake, Mariquita becomes a sinking wasteland filled with women who quickly resign themselves to food shortages, littered streets, and mourning. Without men, life is hopeless, and getting along, nearly impossible. But, Rosalba viuda de Patiño, wife of the former police sergeant, sees a different fate for the town of widows. She declares herself magistrate and promises to instill law and order while restoring the failing economy and infrastructure. Reluctantly, the women agree to join forces. A utopia emerges, one that ironically resembles the ideal society the guerrilla group claims to promote.

Deft, rich, and darkly humorous, Tales from the Town of Widows is a captivating exploration of gender and sexuality that uses the ongoing conflict in Colombia as a backdrop. It presents a fascinating portrait of ill-fated wives and the war that helped them build a peaceful, equality-based society.

Exquisitely wrought, remarkably original, James Cañón's stunning debut marks the arrival of an unforgettable new literary talent.

Review:

"On November 15, 1992, the men of the tiny Colombian town of Mariquita are forced by guerillas to join or die on the spot, which some do. The town's women enter a particularly grievous widowhood. Chapters covering the years that follow chronicle the town's decay and introduce women struggling to survive without men and without meaningful government. Cleotilde Guarnizo, a traveler seeking respite, is hired to be the schoolteacher. Dona Emilia laments the loss of clients for her brothel. Magnolia Morales, meanwhile, forms a group devoted to reminiscing about the men, which becomes a 'magical whorehouse,' where lonely women seduce men from neighboring Honda before they reach Dona Emilia's. After a storm washes away the access road leading to the village, the citizens no longer have contact with the outside world, and their haphazard magistrate Rosalba introduces the 'Procreation Campaign,' where 29 women have sexual relations with the lascivious priest (who turns out to be sterile). Throughout the narrative are short, first-person testimonies from the men, detailing their exploits (which sadden some while making others rejoice). Although Canon, making his debut, crafts characters that shine, the book plods, only picking up speed when the women make a final attempt at uniting and reorganizing their community." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"The story of these women touches our deepest emotions and reveals fundamental needs and concerns....[It] confirms the idea that our world would be far better off in the caring hands of women." Library Journal

Review:

"Prime magic realism a la Marquez, Cortazar and Vargas Llosa, updated with a pop-culture twist." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"A rollicking and often shocking tale that Canon tells with charm and bite." Washington Post

Review:

"From it's bravura opening, in which the men of a fictional Colombian mountain town have been marched off to fight in a decades-long guerilla war, leaving the womenfolk to form a new social order, James Canon's brilliant Tales From the Town of Widows has an imaginative reach that encompasses political, Philosophical, sexual, religious, and magical realms while it also explores the deeper conflicts between tradition and freedom that underlie this mesmerizing debut novel." Elle Magazine

Review:

"James Canon's first novel presents a lively mixture of magic realism and Amazonian feminist politics. But he never strays far from the historical violence that has riven his native Colombia since the 1960s." Financial Times (London)

Review:

"Canon, with his ability to encapsulate epic political history into poignant, poetic prose, promises to evolve into an enduring literary presence." Chronogram

Review:

"James Canon achieves an extraordinary combination of largeness and intimacy. Here is the sweep of history together with the feeling of home, both conveyed with high intelligence and real eloquence. Canon is a young American — in the broader, hemispheric sense of the word — to celebrate." Benjamin Kunkel, author of Indecision

Review:

"Like his villagers, Canon has built a new world on an old — a realigned literary landscape with new sex roles, new stubbornness, new glory, and new wreckage. A much-loved tradition of Colombian fiction has been gorgeously reimagined in a novel for a new era of readers." Joan Silber, author of Household Words

Review:

"James Canon has written a book of wonders with great political purpose....Canon is a gifted storyteller, as full of his radical purpose as Jonathan Swift, as enchanting as Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, as brainy as Pamuk, yet his anger and compassion, as well as his humor, is distinctly his own." Maureen Howard, author of The Silver Screen

About the Author

James Cañón was born and raised in Colombia. He moved to New York to study English and later earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. Canon was awarded the 2001 Henfield Prize for Excellence in Fiction. He lives in New York.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Veronike, April 17, 2008 (view all comments by Veronike)
In Canon's beautiful debut novel, the word tolerance becomes the opposite of war. The town of Mariquita wakes up one day to see all their adult male population gone, taken by communist guerrillas. Suddenly, the ever dependent women of the village must reinvent their world. The result is a highly imaginative, smart and witty novel about resilience and persistence. Be ready to laugh and cry, but also to go "WOW". Canon's cast of wonderful characters will stay with you for a long time. This is the kind of book that should be required for our intolerant youth.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
Alicemendes, February 28, 2007 (view all comments by Alicemendes)
I have never read a book quite like tales from the town of widows: rich, inventive, humorous, emotional, profound and poetic, with a story too large and amazing to be put into words other than the author's. It's also very informative without being didactic; before reading it, I knew almost nothing about Colombia and its long war. But above all, this novel is a tribute to women everywhere. I gave it to my daughter and she gave it to hers. It's that kind of book. Simply put, Tales from the town of widows is amazing. I highly recommend it.
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(6 of 9 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780061140389
Publisher:
Harper
Subject:
Literary
Author:
Canon, James
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Sagas
Subject:
Kidnapping
Subject:
Alternative History
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20070102
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
9.22x6.42x1.30 in. 1.33 lbs.

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Tales from the Town of Widows: And Chronicles from the Land of Men
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 352 pages HarperCollins Publishers - English 9780061140389 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "On November 15, 1992, the men of the tiny Colombian town of Mariquita are forced by guerillas to join or die on the spot, which some do. The town's women enter a particularly grievous widowhood. Chapters covering the years that follow chronicle the town's decay and introduce women struggling to survive without men and without meaningful government. Cleotilde Guarnizo, a traveler seeking respite, is hired to be the schoolteacher. Dona Emilia laments the loss of clients for her brothel. Magnolia Morales, meanwhile, forms a group devoted to reminiscing about the men, which becomes a 'magical whorehouse,' where lonely women seduce men from neighboring Honda before they reach Dona Emilia's. After a storm washes away the access road leading to the village, the citizens no longer have contact with the outside world, and their haphazard magistrate Rosalba introduces the 'Procreation Campaign,' where 29 women have sexual relations with the lascivious priest (who turns out to be sterile). Throughout the narrative are short, first-person testimonies from the men, detailing their exploits (which sadden some while making others rejoice). Although Canon, making his debut, crafts characters that shine, the book plods, only picking up speed when the women make a final attempt at uniting and reorganizing their community." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "The story of these women touches our deepest emotions and reveals fundamental needs and concerns....[It] confirms the idea that our world would be far better off in the caring hands of women."
"Review" by , "Prime magic realism a la Marquez, Cortazar and Vargas Llosa, updated with a pop-culture twist."
"Review" by , "A rollicking and often shocking tale that Canon tells with charm and bite."
"Review" by , "From it's bravura opening, in which the men of a fictional Colombian mountain town have been marched off to fight in a decades-long guerilla war, leaving the womenfolk to form a new social order, James Canon's brilliant Tales From the Town of Widows has an imaginative reach that encompasses political, Philosophical, sexual, religious, and magical realms while it also explores the deeper conflicts between tradition and freedom that underlie this mesmerizing debut novel."
"Review" by , "James Canon's first novel presents a lively mixture of magic realism and Amazonian feminist politics. But he never strays far from the historical violence that has riven his native Colombia since the 1960s." (London)
"Review" by , "Canon, with his ability to encapsulate epic political history into poignant, poetic prose, promises to evolve into an enduring literary presence."
"Review" by , "James Canon achieves an extraordinary combination of largeness and intimacy. Here is the sweep of history together with the feeling of home, both conveyed with high intelligence and real eloquence. Canon is a young American — in the broader, hemispheric sense of the word — to celebrate."
"Review" by , "Like his villagers, Canon has built a new world on an old — a realigned literary landscape with new sex roles, new stubbornness, new glory, and new wreckage. A much-loved tradition of Colombian fiction has been gorgeously reimagined in a novel for a new era of readers."
"Review" by , "James Canon has written a book of wonders with great political purpose....Canon is a gifted storyteller, as full of his radical purpose as Jonathan Swift, as enchanting as Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, as brainy as Pamuk, yet his anger and compassion, as well as his humor, is distinctly his own."
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