So Far from God: A Novel
Tome is a small, outwardly sleepy hamlet in central New Mexico. In Ana Castillo's hands, though, it stands wondrously revealed as a place of marvels, teeming with life and with all manner of collisions: the past with the present, the real with the supernatural, the comic with the horrific, the Native American with the Hispano with the Anglo, the women with the men. With the talkative, intimate voice and the stylistic and narrative freedom of a Southwestern Cervantes, the author relates the story of two crowded decades in the life of a Chicana family. The mother, Sofia, holds things together in the years following the disappearance of her husband Domingo (he of the Clark Gable mustache and the uncontrollable gambling habit). Then there are the daughters: Esperanza, Chicana campus radical turned career woman and television news reporter; Caridad, a nurse who dulls the pain of being jilted with nightly bouts of alcohol and anonymous sex; Fe, the prim and proper bank employee in constant quest for the good life; and la Loca, whose "death" and subsequent resurrection at age three have left her strange and saintly and attuned to higher spiritual frequencies. Ana Castillo's triumph in So Far from God is to weave the mundane and the miraculous, the modern and the archaic, and the tragic and the humorous into one rich novelistic fabric. Hers is a homegrown magical realism, leavened with sly commentary, controlled anger, and a distinct feminist point of view of the world and the cosmos. Of all the marvels in this book, and there are many, the greatest is the achievement of its creator.