Review of Alicia Maldonado: A Mother Lost by Ardain Isma
This modern, aristocratic book portrays real-life events and how hard it is to deal with them, overcome them, or even struggle with them. Such is life, anywhere you put it, in the Caribbean or otherwise. Many people might have problems dealing with the material in this book. But it's involving, shocking, yet mellifluously elegant in its portrayal of a wealthy woman's humble and downtrodden existence. She cannot fathom the dark side of life, and in her pure yet misguided rebellion, she becomes a metaphoric symbol for humanity in general--not to mention impoverished, yet mysteriously happy.
Professor Ardain Isma's excellent first novel painstakingly describes the fact-based life story of Alicia Maldonado, a young, aristrocratic white woman born in Cuba to a land-owning family, members of a seemingly elite class. Alicia arrives in Haiti with her parents and older brother Mario after fleeing Cuba, following the political turmoil within the Batista regime. But what she discovers there is that, in its own way, there is no such thing as fleeing. What her family left behind had to catch up with her slowly, surely, like a creeping plague of sophisticated reality that could only draw to a bad conclusion...
She marries her next-door neighbor and best friend, Richard Laveaux, the son of a rich mulatto family, in spite of her mother's protests. The marriage is happy at first, and Alicia enjoys working for the family business and raising their two children. But the altogether too soon deaths of her father and her alcoholic husband raise questions in her mind about the sanity and purpose of her carefully kept upper-class existence.
Was she really meant to be happy, or is something else, a mysterious fate much darker and deeper, in store for her?
Unable to cope with her problems, Alicia leaves Haiti with her youngest child, Jean-Marie, and vanishes without a trace. None of her family or friends knows her exact whereabouts, and a prolonged and heated search for her begins. How does it ever end? How long must she suffer, and what happens?
You must find out, by reading this gripping, poignant and sophisticatedly charming book--full of the flavor of the islands, the richness of the soil, and the death of all meaning.
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Jean Fritz, an award-winning writer whose work helped transform historical biographies for children from leaden recitals of battles and dates into warm, human narratives full of quirks and crotchets and satisfyingly strange facts, died on Sunday at her home in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. She was 101.
The author of more than four dozen books, Mrs. Fritz was known in particular for her biographies of many of the signal figures of 18th- and 19th-century American history.
America's libraries got a major boost this week on Capitol Hill as a group of leading publishing, information, software, and other businesses unveiled an organized effort to advocate for federal library funding. The move comes in response to the Trump administration's proposal to eliminate virtually all federal library funding, and the agency that distributes those funds to all 50 states.
Margarita Engle has been named the Young People's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. Awarded every two years, the $25,000 laureate title is given to a living writer in recognition of a career devoted to writing exceptional poetry for young readers. The laureate advises the Poetry Foundation on matters relating to young people's literature.
Suite Française, adapted from the bestselling book by Irene Nemirovsky will premiere on the Lifetime network May 22.
Represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, Book Passage--with stores in Corte Madera, Sausalito and San Francisco, Calif.--and co-owner Bill Petrocelli have filed suit against a state law that, the plaintiffs say, "will make it extremely risky, if not impossible, for stores to sell autographed books or host author events."
Petrocelli said that the law's "expensive mandates--with voluminous reporting requirements and draconian penalties--create a nightmare for independent booksellers that thrive on author events and book signings. Consumers will also suffer. The tradition of author events at bookstores, with opportunities for direct interaction between writers and readers, will be shattered. The cost of record-keeping and major liability threaten to make book signings impossible, and stores such as mine do not want to engage in the massive intrusion on customer privacy that is mandated by the law's reporting rules."
Several publishers and authors organizations have officially joined the many book world people criticizing Amazon's new policy allowing third-party booksellers to "bid" for the primary spot in buy buttons.
A statement from the Authors Guild called the move "deeply disturbing" and said it "has the potential to decimate authors' and publishers' earnings from many books, especially backlist books." It noted, too, that the policy might be connected with Amazon's desire to force publishers to use its print-on-demand services, if POD availability will essentially guarantee a top spot on buy buttons. Such an arrangement, the Guild wrote, "looks an awful lot like a 'tying' arrangement under the antitrust law."
The statement concluded: "Amazon has already done enough damage in the book industry. It has devalued books by setting the price and consumer expectations for e-books and hard copy books artificially low, even taking a loss to do so. And it extracts an unreasonable fee from the sale of any book through its site, as compared to the services it provides, and charges extra for things it calls 'marketing services,' such as making a book discoverable on its site. Amazon gets away with this because it has monopoly and monopsony power over the retail book industry. Without a fair and open publishing marketplace, publishers will soon lose the ability to invest in the books that advance our knowledge and culture."
A new program from Amazon is drawing a range of reactions from those across the publishing industry, from fear to downright anger. The e-tailer has started allowing third-party book re-sellers to "win" buy buttons on book pages. The program, publishers, agents, and authors allege, is discouraging customers from buying new books, negatively affecting sales and revenue.
Once every 10 years Granta issues a special issue focused on new American fiction, "showcasing the young novelists deemed to be the best of their generation--writers of remarkable achievement and promise, still in their twenties and thirties."
It's Best of Young American Novelists of 2017 list includes "21 outstanding writers who capture the preoccupations of modern America." The authors are: Jesse Ball, Halle Butler, Emma Cline, Joshua Cohen, Mark Doten, Jen George, Rachel B Glaser, Lauren Groff, Yaa Gyasi, Garth Risk Hallberg, Greg Jackson, Sana Krasikov, Catherine Lacey, Ben Lerner, Karan Mahajan, Anthony Marra, Dinaw Mengestu, Ottessa Moshfegh, Chinelo Okparanta, Esmé Weijun Wang, and Claire Vaye Watkins.
Robert M. Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values, died yesterday at age 88.
First published in 1974 by William Morrow, the book was a spectacularly popular philosophy book that was loosely autobiographical, tracing a father-son motorcycle trip and flashbacks to a period in which the author was diagnosed as schizophrenic. Its thesis was that quality is the basis of reality, and that this understanding unifies most East Asian and Western thought. Pirsig called this system of thought the Metaphysics of Quality.
Bestselling author John Grisham will celebrate the publication of his 30th novel, Camino Island ( June 6), with his first bookstore tour in 25 years. On his website, Grisham shares the schedule and event guidelines for the tour, which will feature a book signing and discussion/q&a at each of twelve stops.