Synopses & Reviews
Award-winning author of Under the Feet of Jesus
, Helena María Viramontes offers a profoundly gritty portrait of everyday life in L.A. in this lyrically muscular, artfully crafted novel.
In the barrio of East Los Angeles, a group of unbreakable young women struggle to find their way through the turbulent urban landscape of the 1960s. Androgynous Turtle is a homeless gang member. Ana devotes herself to a mentally ill brother. Ermila is a teenager poised between childhood and political consciousness. And Tranquilina, the daughter of missionaries, finds hope in faith. In prose that is potent and street tough, Viramontes has choreographed a tragic dance of death and rebirth. Julia Alvarez has called Viramontes "one of the important multicultural voices of American literature." Their Dogs Came with Them further proves the depth and talent of this essential author.
"Latino life in 1960s East Los Angeles is the subject of Viramontes's kaleidoscopic and occasionally frustrating first novel (after short story collection The Moths), an amalgamation of troubled young people, a troubled neighborhood and an aggressive storytelling voice. There are the mother-and-daughter preachers; a young woman looking for her missing, mentally unstable brother; an androgynous young woman gang member passing as a man; a clique of boisterous teenage girls intent on protecting themselves; and the unhappy grandparents who attempt to keep one of the girls in check. The constant presence of the shadowy Quarantine Authority (supposedly on the lookout for rabid dogs but more intent on policing residents) and the imminent construction of a freeway that will bisect the district are but two threats to the struggling but vibrant community. All this emerges in fits and starts, with Viramontes somewhat less concerned with plot or character development than with establishing aura. Readers willing to look past the loose narrative construction will find the book's heart in Viramontes's voice: at once terse, energetic and vivid." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The award-winning author of "Under the Feet of Jesus" offers a profoundly gritty portrait of everyday life in L.A., in this lyrically muscular, artfully crafted novel.
About the Author
Helena María Viramontes is the acclaimed author of The Moths and Other Stories and Under the Feet of Jesus; and the coeditor of two collections: Chicana (W)Rites: On Word and Film and Chicana Creativity and Criticism. She is the recipient of the 2006 Luis Leal Award and the John Dos Passos Award for Literature, and her short stories and essays have been widely anthologized and adopted for classroom use and university study. Viramontes lives in Ithaca, New York, where she is a professor in the Department of English at Cornell University.