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$26.99  $25.10
Publish Date
5.4 X 8.2 X 1.1 inches | 0.75 pounds

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About the Author

Xavier Navarro Aquino was born and raised in Puerto Rico. His fiction has appeared in Tin House, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, and Guernica. His poetry has appeared in the Caribbean Writer and is anthologized in Thicker Than Water: New Writing from the Caribbean. He has been awarded scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, a Tennessee Williams scholarship from the Sewanee Writers' Conference, and a MacDowell Fellowship. He holds an M.A. in English Caribbean Studies from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is currently an ACLS Emerging Voices Fellow at Dartmouth College.


"Velorio recognizes that neither utopia nor dystopia are finite states, that they exist alongside and even inside one another, like the hurricane and the eye, the empire and the island. Xavier Navarro Aquino takes us on a riveting, harrowing journey through the aftermath, where the natural violence of the storm is compounded by disaster capitalists; the dead haunt the living; impossible decisions are made and seemingly impossible futures are born." -- Justin Torres, national bestselling author of We The Animals

"This debut novel traces a group of survivors who fall under the spell of an authoritarian cult leader in the days following Hurricane Maria's destruction in Puerto Rico. It is deeply imagined and deeply felt - imagistic and strange and haunting - and simmering with grief and rage." -- Gabriela Garcia, New York Times bestselling author of Of Women and Salt

"Velorio is a novel reckoning with the tragic event of the great Puerto Rican hurricane and a vibrant examination of quiet lives in extremis. It is an assured, brilliant debut from a new, gifted writer." -- Chigozie Obioma, award-winning author of An Orchestra of Minorities

"'We all thought we were ready for Maria.' With this line, Xavier Navarro Aquino sets the stakes for his beautiful and heartbreaking novel. Was Puerto Rico ready for Hurricane Maria? No. And yet the people endured it anyway. In the vein of Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones, Velorio is a testimony to the resilience, the trials and triumphs, of a family, an island, a people. This is one hell of a debut." -- Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling

"...a Murakami-esque flavor, albeit darker....Navarro Aquino is an incredibly talented young writer." -- New York Times Book Review

"Pulling readers into the story with an impending hurricane and a mother and her two daughters waiting in fear, first-time novelist Aquino sets a mood of charged and desperate hope. Inspired by Hurricane Maria's assault on Puerto Rico in 2017, Aquino presents a broader examination of loss, trauma, rebuilding, and even the notion of utopia....The rituals that Ura and his followers start in Memoria recall the ostracizing instinct of the stranded boys in Lord of the Flies, and raise questions about the warring instincts of humans in the face of disaster and societal breakdown. Aquino mixes Spanish into the English text and stacks up details and characters, trusting the readers to engage with the world he creates, which is richer for all that is implied and unexplained. This is a demanding read that rouses high emotions and offers no simplistic resolutions." -- Booklist (starred review)

"The wake of Hurricane Maria--a storm so powerful and its effects so cat-astrophic that Maria has been retired from the cir-culation of names used by the National Weather Service--provides the energy for this remarkable, mythic novel, populated by a memorable cast." -- BookPage

"[An] ambitious, movingly lyrical debut novel from Xavier Navarro Aquino that looks at the real-life tragedy of Hurricane Maria's impact on Puerto Rico through a grief-soaked, phantasmagorical lens....Velorio has apocalyptic fires and savage violence, but its most powerful moments are the quiet, searching ones, where Navarro Aquino reflects on the island's history of being 'taken and given like the final play in a losing game of dominoes.' Navarro Aquino's gift is translating that historical pain into the turbulent inner lives of his characters, all struggling in their own, sometimes destructive, ways with their feelings of loneliness and abandonment. Their wounds are older and deeper than those inflicted by Hurricane Maria." -- Shelf Awareness

"Navarro Aquino debuts with an elegiac and fervent ode to Puerto Rico that opens in the wake of 2017's Hurricane Maria . . . This lyrical and emotionally raw story will leave readers reflecting on the pain and promise of memory."
-- Publishers Weekly

"Xavier Navarro Aquino brings the island to vivid life in his haunting debut novel set in the aftermath of that disaster, as a ragtag group of survivors falls under the sway of a sinister cult leader. Like Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones before it, Velorio is both a complex, politically engaged work and deeply human story from a writer who's surely at the start of a long career." -- Chicago Review of Books