Friday, August 26, 2011


I just finished a great new novel by Esmeralda Santiago, titled Conquistadora. It is an epic that follows a young girl, Ana, through adulthood in which she pursues her ambitions from Spain to Puerto Rico in the mid-19th century. As a girl Ana dreams of Puerto Rico in which many of her ancestors lived and died including a distant male relative that traveled with Ponce de Leon, the famous conquistador. Her dreams finally become reality after she meets twin brothers Ramon and Inocente. She marries Ramon and convinces the brothers that in Puerto Rico lies their destiny. Once in Puerto Rico Ana deals with constant hardship and a bitter love triangle. Slavery and relations with slaves factor in heavily as the sugar plantation the twins and Ana become responsible for require signficant labor. Puerto Rico is almost it's own character in the book - the landscape is described in detail and the historical context is well-considered. While Ana is not the most likable main character, she is well-developed and complex. I highly recommend it; especially if you liked books such as The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende or One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

On Monday there's a free teleconference book club sponsored by the organization Las Comadres in which Esmeralda Santiago will be present! (See the links below.) Even if you haven't read the book, you might still want to tune in if you enjoyed her other work.


Almost a Woman
This is the first memoir I read by Santiago, though it is actually a follow-up to her first published memoir, and I just fell in love with Esmeralda, her family, and her writing style. Santiago recounts her young adulthood as a poor Puerto Rican immigrant living in New York City.

America's Dream
This is Santiago's first novel about a Puerto Rican woman and her many struggles.

The Turkish Lover
An account of Santiago's affair as a young woman with a Turkish filmmaker.

When I Was Puerto Rican
This is Santiago's first memoir which received much critical acclaim. It recounts Santiago's early years in Puerto Rico and her experiences after immigrating to New York.


PBS NewsHour Interview with Esmeralda Santiago on Conquistadora
A great interview with Santiago about her new novel. She thanks librarians at both the end of her book and in this interview for their help finding the research she needed to complete her book; a nice reminder that if you have questions regarding research, information, or most anything you should Ask a Librarian!

Reading With Las Comadres: Conquistadora by Esmeralda Santiago
I have already reigstered and I hope some of you will too and listen in during the teleconference. I love book clubs - I always get so much more out of a book by discussing it with others. Plus, I'm yet to attend a book club that includes a discussion with the author, so I'm really psyched about this!

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