Where There Was Fire

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Product Details

$28.99  $26.96
Flatiron Books
Publish Date
6.46 X 9.52 X 1.01 inches | 1.04 pounds

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About the Author

John Manuel Arias is a queer, Costa Rican American poet and writer. He is a Canto Mundo fellow & alumnus of the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop. His prose and poetry have been published in PANK, The Rumpus, F(r)iction, Joyland Magazine, and Akashic Books. He has lived in Washington D.C., Brooklyn New York, and in San José, Costa Rica with his grandmother and four ghosts. Where There Was Fire is his debut novel.


"A striking debut rich in secrets and sadness." ―Kirkus

"When poets write novels, you just know they'll be good ones." --Good Morning America

"John Manuel Arias weaves an ambitious story that exposes the costs of corporate greed while revealing the power of personal agency and the enduring bonds of family. This is a book you'll want to read again and again." ―Cleyvis Natera, author of Neruda on the Park

"Lyrical and affecting." --Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"A sweeping portrait of a Costa Rican family that has the energy of a speeding train. Each sentence that John Manuel Arias writes carries the juice of great gossip, the lyricism of a favorite poem, and the blood of forgotten history. I will never forget this book." ―Melissa Lozada-Oliva, author of Dreaming of You

"This novel showcases its author's lyrical gifts and deep, personal knowledge of Costa Rican history and agribusiness. In scintillating prose, John Manuel Arias, who is also a poet, tells the story of a family rent apart by the ruthless banana industry and a deadly fire that impacts multiple generations." --The San Francisco Chronicle

"Every page is a masterclass in how to wrap a reader inside of a book. Simply put, this book will make you want to re-read it just to spend more time with the writing." --Debutiful

"Vivid and rich." -Lupita Aquino

"A haunting, operatic saga of family, history and place. Where There Was Fire beautifully braids love, lust, magic and the destructive power of man to wondrous and, at times, heartbreaking effect. Arias has created an utterly original, unforgettable tale of family that will sear a place in the reader's soul." ―Xochitl Gonzalez, bestselling author of Olga Dies Dreaming

"Where There Was Fire reads as if enchanted by the spirit of an ancient and generous storyteller. How privileged we are to read of this memorable family! It is an astonishing debut novel, written in prose so atmospheric and poetic that I gasped too many times to count. Where There Was Fire quite literally took my breath away." ―Kali Fajardo-Anstine, ABA winner and bestselling author of Woman of Light and Sabrina & Corina

"An arresting tale of love, regret, and redemption. John Manuel Arias offers a searing look into the legacy of American agribusiness in Costa Rica and masterfully tells the story of a family fighting to put itself back together in the wake of unimaginable loss. As poetic as it is powerful, Where There Was Fire burns with rage and grief, and most of all, hope." ―Jenny Tinghui Zhang, author of Four Treasures of the Sky