Daughters of the Stone
A lyrical powerful novel about a family of Afro-Puerto Rican women spanning five generations, detailing their physical and spiritual journey from the Old World to the New.
It is the mid-1800s. Fela, taken from Africa, is working at her second sugar plantation in colonial Puerto Rico, where her mistress is only too happy to benefit from her impressive embroidery skills. But Fela has a secret. Before she and her husband were separated and sold into slavery, they performed a tribal ceremony in which they poured the essence of their unborn child into a very special stone. Fela keeps the stone with her, waiting for the chance to finish what she started. When the plantation owner approaches her, Fela sees a better opportunity for her child, and allows the man to act out his desire. Such is the beginning of a line of daughters connected by their intense love for one another, and the stories of a lost land.
Mati, a powerful healer and noted craftswoman, is grounded in a life that is disappearing in a quickly changing world.
Concha, unsure of her place, doesn't realize the price she will pay for rejecting her past.
Elena, modern and educated, tries to navigate between two cultures, moving to New York, where she struggles to keep her family together.
Carisa turns to the past for wisdom and strength when her life in New York falls apart.
The stone becomes meaningful to each of the women, pulling them through times of crisis. Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa shows great skill and warmth in the telling of this heartbreaking, inspirational story about mothers and daughters, and the ways in which they hurt and save one another.
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About the Author
Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa was born in Puerto Rico. As a child she was sent to live with her grandparents in the South Bronx, where she was introduced to the culture of rural Puerto Rico, including the storytelling skills that came naturally to the women, especially the older women, in her family. Much of her work is based on her experiences during this time. Llanos-Figueroa taught creative writing, language and literature in the New York City school system before becoming a young-adult librarian and writer. Her first novel, Daughters of the Stone, was a Finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, and her short stories have been published in anthologies and literary magazines such as Breaking Ground: Anthology of Puerto Rican Women Writers in New York 1980-2012, Growing Up Girl, Afro-Hispanic Review, Pleaides, Latino Book Review, Label Me Latina/o and Kweli Journal. She lives in New York City.
This...novel traces the lives of succeeding generations of Puerto Rican women from the 19th century onward. Though it's ambitious historical narrative is reminiscent of the Latin American boom writers, it has a distinct personality of its own. In particular, I enjoyed its feminist perspective as well as the author's tender loving care about language, a quality I find badly wanting in many a book published today.
Oscar Hijuelos, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
Rejoice! Here is a novel you have never read before: the story of a long line of extraordinary Afro-Puerto Rican women silenced by history. In Daughters of the Stone, Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa rescues them from oblivion and richly, compellingly, magically introduces them to literature-- and to the world. ¡Bienvenidas!
Cristina Garcia, Author of Dreaming In Cuban and Here In Berlin
Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa's Daughters of the Stone sings as few novels can. It also tells us of a culture and nation that is under-represented in our literature: Puerto Rico. And it does so with brilliant flourishes, in a narrative both gripping and intimate. Conveying a wide sweep of history, as witnessed by several generations of women, the book has the warmth of an autobiography while sustaining a firm and stately control of technique and language.
Pen Literary Awards, 2010 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize Finalist