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Women Of Fire And Snow

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Andy Garcia Ruse

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Women of Fire and Snow is a riveting collection of contemporary stories of women straddling the Mexican-American border while finding their place and voice. Cultural identity, gender violence, forced migration, sacrifice, love, and resiliency frame suspenseful tales where realism is tempered by the supernatural and mystical. An undocumented teenager is ripped from her home to fight a monster in a haunted town. A college student confronts evil when ICE detains her father. While rescuing her nephew at the border, a young woman wrestles with her privilege and the power of Santa Muerte. A curandera battles a demon while her granddaughter confronts her violent husband. A young Chicana from Seattle travels to Mexico, plunging into a secret society to combat rampant femicide. From the deserts and volcanoes of Mexico to the forests of the Pacific Northwest, these fast-paced stories blend social commentary with classic and psychological horror. ©2021 Maria Anastasia Sefchick (P)2022 Maria Anastasia Sefchick

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nati del Paso is an author, counselor, and student of Psychology and Ontogony. She was raised in Mexico by a Mexican mother and an American father. She left the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity at the University of Washington to be faculty at Portland Community College. Del Paso weaves psychology, mysticism, and magic realism into suspenseful tales surrounding the immigrant experience, women, environmental and social justice issues. She recently finished her first novel. This debut short story collection traces the lives of Mexican American women as they navigate crises arising from gender, politics, and the supernatural. The settings of these eight tales swing between two geographical poles, the fire and snow of the book’s title: Mexico and Washington state’s Snoqualmie Valley area. The spatial opposition mirrors psychic, political, and emotional dislocations in the characters’ lives, as in “The Devil You Know,” one of the volume’s strongest stories. Emiliana now lives in South Seattle, but she grew up in Mexico. She was trained as a curandera; during her first healing, Emiliana encountered Tzitzitlime, a powerful demon from the stars. Ever since, he’s appeared to Emiliana when tragedy threatens. Now, after an ominous vision, she’s visiting her great-granddaughter, Tatiana, who recently married Liam, a violent and controlling man. Emiliana again confronts the demon, which forces her to reevaluate the past and her role as a healer. Empowered by a deep connection with the spirits of her mother and grandmother, she comes to her great-granddaughter’s rescue. The world in these stories is threatened by violence, death, and destruction, sometimes overwhelming but sometimes defied through ties of family, friendship, and the mystical. In her collection, del Paso tells tales that often contain elements of horror and suspense. It’s a commentary on women’s lived experience that some of the most horrific motifs are simple fact, such as the epidemic of femicides in Ecatepec de Morelos, Mexico. In such a world, spirits and demons seem right at home alongside more mundane events, allowing the stories to venture into dramatic, even melodramatic, territory without feeling artificial or overdone. While the pieces often describe stark choices or harsh fates, there’s also a strong vein of assurance that nature, spirit, and the land itself can redress balances. —Kirkus Reviews Del Paso’s book, a collection of short stories called “Women of Fire and Snow,” is at once intentionally disruptive to the status quo, yet deliciously satisfying to the soul. The stories and their vivid characters offer a glimpse of true justice found only in the outer limits of the human imagination. They are uniquely indigenous in conception yet universal in their reach. —Bill Conroy, investigative journalist, author of Flip Flop https://billconroy.pressfolios.com/ When Nati Del Paso’s characters speak of being “Ni de aquí, ni de allá” — neither from here nor from there — they speak of straddling borders; each foot in two separate worlds. Not only do the characters in Women of Fire and Snow feel stuck on the literal border between Mexico and the U.S., but Del Paso’s stories also transcend the figurative border of reality and mysticism. Del Paso’s collection of stories are powerful tales of struggle and triumph. While exploring themes of sexism and racism, readers will appreciate how Del Paso weaves tales of resilient women facing monsters, both real and supernatural. — Jose Olivares, investigative journalist The big lie about women is that we are weak and inferior—the lesser sex that needs protection. The truth, as depicted vividly in Women of Fire and Snow, is that we are strong and powerful, connected to the mystical and the divine, and perfectly capable of protecting ourselves. Nati del Paso has channeled the voices of five extraordinary women, marginalized and meaningless to the men, and the society, who prefer to silence them. Travel from the snow of Snoqualmie to the fire of Popocatépetl to witness these Women of Fire and Snow as they navigate modern life using their wits and their ancestors’ wisdom as their guide. These are stories that will reverberate in your heart long after you’ve turned the last page. —Sylvia Madrigal, author of Of Two Minds La voz y la pluma de Nati son las de quien auténticamente ha vivido el fenómeno de ser arrancado de su tierra natal, de ese apego que uno siente y que posteriormente tiene que volver a enraizar para no sentirse un apátrida, o un desarraigado. Su experiencia le permite habitar el cuerpo y los sentimientos de los protagonistas de la historia. Todo escritor abreva de su experiencia, y Nati ha transitado en los dos países que retrata en momentos clave de su vida. Desde su nacimiento en California, su infancia, adolescencia y primera adultez en la Ciudad de México para volver a su natal Estados Unidos, primero en Reno y después en Washington en donde el contacto con migrantes indocumentados le ha permitido abrir sus ojos y su corazón con la empatía y compasión que alguien que ha sido arrancado de sus raíces y creencias se aferra a lo aprendido por generaciones. En esta era de conflictos partidarios, de polarización y de división, la prosa de Nati nos permite ponernos en el lugar del otro. En el terreno incómodo que pone la piel al rojo vivo y lacera nuestras emociones volviéndonos mejores seres humanos. — Felipe Fernandez del Paso, Director, author, producer.

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