Set in northern Mexico in the 1870s, Spirits of the Ordinary tells interweaving stories centered on Zacarías Carabajal, who leaves his comfortable city home to prospect for gold in the wilderness while his abandoned wife, Estela, struggles to build a new life.
Visions, dreams, and portents are part of the everyday world of Spirits of the Ordinary. Estela's siblings, the enigmatic and supernaturally beautiful twins Manzana and Membrillo, discover their gift for water divining. Zacarías's mother, Mariana, has been silent all her adult life after experiencing an apocalyptic vision of angels in her teens. His father, Julio, is an apothecary devoted to Torah study and Jewish mysticism, practicing his religion in secret as generations before him have done. Meanwhile, Zacarías's wanderings turn into a spiritual quest that takes him to the ancient cliff dwellings known as Casas Grandes.
Presenting a tapestry of fascinating lives as well as the story of a reluctant mystic in a spectacular desert landscape, Spirits of the Ordinary demonstrates that, as Alcalá writes in her introduction, "magic and holiness are all around us."
About the Author
Kathleen Alcalá is a Clarion West graduate and instructor, the award-winning author of six books, a recent Whitely Fellow, and a previous Hugo House Writer in Residence. Her latest book, The Deepest Roots: Finding Food and Community on a Pacific Northwest Island, explores relationships with geography, history, and ethnicity. Ursula K. Le Guin said of Alcalá's story collection Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist: "Not one tale is like another, yet all together they form a beautiful whole, a world where one would like to stay forever."
Rigoberto González is the author of So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water until It Breaks, a selection of the National Poetry Series, and Soledad Sigh-Sighs, a book for children. The recipient of a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and of writing residencies in Spain, Brazil, and Costa Rica, he currently lives in New York City.