Of Women and Salt
Mr B's review
From 19th century cigar factories in Cuba, to present day US detention centres, we follow five generations of fierce Latina women all interlinked by blood and circumstance. We watch as each of them come to terms with their differing sense of identity, and what ultimately unifies them all.
The New York Times Bestseller
‘Extraordinary . . . stunning’ – Elizabeth Macneal, author of The Doll Factory
‘Vivid details, visceral prose and strong willful women’ – Angie Cruz, author of Dominicana
‘Vivid, engrossing, luminous’ – Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti
Five generations of women, linked by blood and circumstance, by the secrets they share, and by a single book passed down through a family, with an affirmation scrawled in its margins: We are force. We are more than we think we are.
1866, Cuba: Maria Isabel is the only woman employed at a cigar factory, where each day the workers find strength in daily readings of Victor Hugo. But these are dangerous political times, and as Maria begins to see marriage and motherhood as her only options, the sounds of war are approaching.
1959, Cuba: Dolores watches her husband make for the mountains in answer to Fidel Castro’s call to arms. What Dolores knows, though, is that to survive, she must win her own war, and commit an act of violence that threatens to destroy her daughter Carmen’s world.
2016, Miami: Carmen, still wrestling with the trauma of displacement, is shocked when her daughter Jeanette announces her plans to travel to Cuba to see her grandmother Dolores. In the walls of her crumbling home lies a secret, one that will link Jeanette to her past, and to this fearless line of women.
From nineteenth-century cigar factories to present-day detention centres, from Cuba to the United States to Mexico, Gabriela Garcia’s Of Women and Salt follows Latina women of fierce pride, bound by the stories passed between them. It is a haunting meditation on the choices of mothers and the tenacity of women who choose to tell their truth despite those who wish to silence them. For fans of American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins and Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo.
I devoured it, and in return it swallowed me whole into the lives of women whose decisions mould and make each other. It’s about mothers & daughters – fierce love and the terror that comes with it. How we save each other. How we save ourselves. — Kiran Millwood Hargrave, author of The Mercies A stunning achievement. I loved its intensity, its scope, its vivid prose. An essential, profound story about mothers and daughters, the Latina Experience, and the indomitable beating heart of womankind. — Emma Stonex, author of The Lamplighters Extraordinary. Of Women and Salt is a book that made me fall in love with reading again, that reminded me of the power and devastating effect that words can possess. It is a stunning hymn to the strength of mothers. The last book that made me feel this way was Girl, Woman, Other, written with the same generosity and compassion, its words (so elegant and understated) delivered like blows. I cannot stop thinking about it. — Elizabeth Macneal, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Doll Factory The debut that’s had publishing buzzing all winter long meditates on the way immigration shapes the lives of Latinx women * Entertainment Weekly * Gripping, accomplished . . . an interlocking portrait of women striving, loving, losing, getting lost and getting found * Lit Hub * A sweeping tour de force about addiction, displacement, and the legacy of trauma * Harper’s Bazaar * A moving intergenerational epic * Refinery29 * This stunningly accomplished first novel is both epic and intimate. * O, The Oprah Magazine * A mesmerizing patchwork of determination, courage and survival. * Washington Post * A fierce and powerful debut. Garcia wields narrative power, cultivating true and profound work on migration, legacy, and survival — Terese Marie Mailhot, bestselling author of Heart Berries A vivid, engrossing novel . . . it utterly absorbed me with its luminous, exacting prose and depictions of redemption and violence — Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti I am a sucker for intergenerational family dramas and fraught mother and daughter relationships. Garcia’s vivid details, visceral prose and strong willful women negotiating how to survive in this world are easy to fall for — Angie Cruz, author of Dominicana Gabriela Garcia captures the lives of Cuban women in a world to which they refuse to surrender and she does so with precision and generosity and beauty — Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist
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