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Pierced by the Sun, by Laura Esquivel.

August 20, 2016

Pierced by the Sun, by Laura Esquivel.  Translated by Jordi Castells.  AmazonCrossing (2016), 216 pages

4 stars

A strange but engaging novel about a policewoman in Mexico who is plunged into her own and the world’s destructive behavior after witnessing a murder.

Laura Esquivel is a Mexican writer who has published several novels, the best known of them Water Like Chocolate.  I remember vividly how much I enjoyed it when it was published in the 1990 and how generally popular it was, but I sadly don’t remember enough to compare it with her new novel.

The central character of Pierced by the Sun is Lupita, a deeply troubled woman caught up in deeply troubling situations.   Hardly an appealing person, she is trying to get her life turned around by using ironing rather than booze to distance herself from pains of life.   In danger after observing the mysterious murder of an elected official, she uses her intelligence and fine powers of observation to solve the crime, but gets tripped up by her own flaws.  After being rescued, she discovers a new alternative.

In Esquivel’s skillful hands, Lupita’s story moves in a quick, disjointed fashion through her traumatic past and present.  Its rhythm feels like that of a mariachi band.  Esquivel inserts caustic criticism of the Mexican political and economic corruption and the ways in which the land itself is under attack.  In addition, she includes the gods of the pre-Hispanic peoples of Mexico and the rituals with which they maintained the balance of existence.

This is not a book for those who seek simple chronological narratives, but I enjoyed it immensely and am glad to recommend it to readers who share my tastes.

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