Synopses & Reviews
In the years before the Mexican Revolution, Mexico is ruled by a tiny elite that apes European culture, grows rich from foreign investment, and prizes racial purity. The vast majority of Mexicans, who are native or of mixed native and Spanish blood, are politically powerless and slowly starving to death. Presiding over this corrupt system is Don Porfirio Díaz, the ruthless and inscrutable president of the Republic.
Against this backdrop, The City of Palaces opens in a Mexico City jail with the meeting of Miguel Sarmiento and Alicia Gavilán. Miguel is a principled young doctor, only recently returned from Europe but wracked by guilt for a crime he committed as a medical student ten years earlier. Alicia is the spinster daughter of an aristocratic family. Disfigured by smallpox, she has devoted herself to working with the city’s destitute. This unlikely pair—he a scientist and atheist and she a committed Christian—will marry. Through their eyes and the eyes of their young son, José, readers follow the collapse of the old order and its bloody aftermath.
The City of Palaces is a sweeping novel of interwoven lives: Miguel and Alicia; José, a boy as beautiful and lonely as a child in a fairy tale; the idealistic Francisco Madero, who overthrows Díaz but is nevertheless destroyed by the tyrant’s political system; and Miguel’s cousin Luis, shunned as a “sodomite.” A glittering mosaic of the colonial past and the wealth of the modern age, The City of Palaces is a story of faith and reason, cathedrals and hovels, barefoot street vendors and frock-coated businessmen, grand opera and silent film, presidents and peasants, the living and the dead.
Winner, Best Latino Focused Fiction Book, International Latino Book Awards, Latino Literacy Now
Finalist, Best Historical Fiction Novel, International Latino Book Awards, Latino Literacy Now
"Through a series of tiny, radiantly moving vignettes, award-winning memoirist and poet GonzÃ¡lez (Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa), a first-generation Mexican-American, has created a memoir through the lens of his hungers for food, motherland, recognition, acceptance, passion, and love. Interspersed among these short prose pieces are piedritas, which GonzÃ¡les explains as the bits of debris that, as a child, he had to sort from dry beans before cooking 'to be tossed at the conclusion of the cleaning.' With their complexity, gleam, texture, and strength, he thought them 'much more interesting than the beans, which huddled in the bowl, boring as clones.' In this book, they are represented by poems that function like arias, interrupting the narrative to express pure feeling in the present tense. Piled one upon another, the stories and poems paint a kaleidoscopic, painfully truthful self-portrait, like the 'dazzling forest museum' made of junk by an old woman that GonzÃ¡lez stumbled across in a trip to Switzerland, 'gathering bits and pieces of this and that in order to build a gallery of tiny gems, colorful and edible as gumdrops.' Immigrant and gay readers may experience release in the book's agonizing familiarity; all readers will find it lusciously evocative." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Rigoberto González, author of the critically acclaimed memoir Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa, takes a second piercing look at his past through a startling new lens: hunger. The need for sustenance originating in childhood poverty, the adolescent emotional need for solace and comfort, the adult desire for a larger world, another lover, a different body—all are explored by González in a series of heartbreaking and poetic vignettes. Each vignette is a defining moment of self-awareness, every moment an important step in a lifelong journey toward clarity, knowledge, and the nourishment that comes in various forms—even "the smallest biggest joys" help piece together a complex portrait of a gay man of color who at last defines himself by what he learns, not by what he yearns for.
Winner of the American Book Award
A sweeping novel of Mexico set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution, The City of Palaces
is a story of faith and reason, cathedrals and hovels, barefoot street vendors and frock-coated businessmen, grand opera and silent film, presidents and peasants, the living and the dead.
About the Author
Rigoberto González is the author of thirteen books of poetry and prose and the editor of Camino del Sol: Fifteen Years of Latina and Latino Writing
. His memoir Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa
won the American Book Award, and he has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He is a contributing editor for Poets & Writers Magazine
, serves on the executive board of directors of the National Book Critics Circle, and is an associate professor of English at Rutgers-Newark, the State University of New Jersey.
“Told in a series of revealing vignettes and poems, González’s Autobiography of my Hungers turns moments of need and want into revelations of truth and self-awareness, creating the portrait of an artist that is complex if not entirely complete.”—El Paso Times
“Through his provocative vignettes, González communicates a lifetime of struggle for affirmation and self-acceptance.”—Make/Shift
Table of Contents
acknowledgments allegory I. Leaving the Motherland, Mother Leaving Medutypiedrita
glovemigra II. Unsettled Independenceinvisiblepiedrita
voicereprimand martini III. In Search of Paradisestationpiedrita
IV. Body Cravingsloveemptypiedrita