Synopses & Reviews
We slipped into this country like thieves, onto the land that once was ours.
So begins The Madonnas of Echo Park, the 2011 Hemingway Foundation/Pen Award winning novel by Brando Skyhorse. These words, spoken by an illegal Mexican day laborer, introduce us to the unseen world of Los Angeles, following the men and women who cook the meals, clean the homes, and struggle to lose their ethnic identity in the pursuit of the American dream.
When a dozen or so girls and mothers gather on an Echo Park street corner to act out a scene from a Madonna music video, they find themselves caught in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting. In the aftermath, Aurora Esperanza grows distant from her mother, Felicia, who as a housekeeper in the Hollywood Hills establishes a unique relationship with a detached housewife.
The Esperanzas’ shifting lives connect with those of various members of their neighborhood. A day laborer trolls the streets for work with men half his age and witnesses a murder that pits his morality against his illegal status; a religious hypocrite gets her comeuppance when she meets the Virgin Mary at a bus stop on Sunset Boulevard; a typical bus route turns violent when cultures and egos collide in the night, with devastating results; and Aurora goes on a journey through her gentrified childhood neighborhood in a quest to discover her own history and her place in the land that all Mexican Americans dream of, "the land that belongs to us again."
Like the Academy Award-winning film Crash, The Madonnas of Echo Park follows the intersections of its characters and cultures in Los Angeles. In the footsteps of Junot DÍaz and Sherman Alexie, Brando Skyhorse in his debut novel gives voice to one neighborhood in Los Angeles with an astonishing— and unforgettable—lyrical power.
andlt;Iandgt;The Madonnas of Echo Parkandlt;/Iandgt; is both a grand mural of a Los Angeles neighborhood and an intimate glimpse into the lives of the men and women who struggle to lose their ethnic identity in the pursuit of the American dream. Each chapter summons a different voiceand#8212;poetic, fierce, comic. We meet Hector, a day laborer who trolls the streets for work and witnesses a murder that pits his morality against his illegal status; his ex-wife Felicia, who narrowly survives a shooting and lands a cleaning job in a Hollywood Hills house as desolate as its owner; and young Aurora, who journeys through her now gentrified childhood neighborhood to discover her own history and her place in the land that all Mexican-Americans dream of, and#8220;the land that belongs to us again.and#8221; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Reminiscent of Luis Alberto Urrea and Dinaw Mengestu, andlt;iandgt;The Madonnas of Echo Parkandlt;/iandgt; is a brilliant and genuinely fresh view of American life.
About the Author
Brando Skyhorseand#8217;s debut novel, andlt;iandgt;The Madonnas of Echo Parkandlt;/iandgt;, received the 2011 PEN/Hemingway Award and the Sue Kaufman Award for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The book was also a Barnes andamp; Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. He has been awarded fellowships at Ucross and Can Serrat, Spain. Skyhorse is a graduate of Stanford University and the MFA Writersand#8217; Workshop program at UC Irvine. He is the 2014 Jenny McKean Moore Writer-In-Washington at George Washington University.andnbsp;