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 the author of a collection of short stories from Calyx Books, three novels set in Nineteenth Century Mexico from Chronicle Books, and a collection of essays from the University of Arizona Press. Her work has received the Western States Book Award, two Artist Trust Fellowships, and other recognitions. Kathleen teaches creative writing at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts on Whidbey Island. She holds degrees from Stanford University, the University of Washington, and the University of New Orleans. Her parents were born in Mexico, and she was born in Compton, California. Bainbridge Island has been her home for the last twenty years.
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.