Native Country of the Heart Summary and Reviews

Native Country of the Heart

A Memoir

by Cherríe Moraga

Native Country of the Heart by Cherríe Moraga X
Native Country of the Heart by Cherríe Moraga
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2019
    256 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

From the celebrated editor of This Bridge Called My Back, Cherríe Moraga charts her own coming-of-age alongside her mother's decline, and also tells the larger story of the Mexican American diaspora.

Native Country of the Heart: A Memoir is, at its core, a mother-daughter story. The mother, Elvira, was hired out as a child, along with her siblings, by their own father to pick cotton in California's Imperial Valley. The daughter, Cherríe Moraga, is a brilliant, pioneering, queer Latina feminist. The story of these two women, and of their people, is woven together in an intimate memoir of critical reflection and deep personal revelation.

As a young woman, Elvira left California to work as a cigarette girl in glamorous late-1920s Tijuana, where an ambiguous relationship with a wealthy white man taught her life lessons about power, sex, and opportunity. As Moraga charts her mother's journey - from impressionable young girl to battle-tested matriarch to, later on, an old woman suffering under the yoke of Alzheimer's - she traces her own self-discovery of her gender-queer body and Lesbian identity, as well as her passion for activism and the history of her pueblo. As her mother's memory fails, Moraga is driven to unearth forgotten remnants of a U.S. Mexican diaspora, its indigenous origins, and an American story of cultural loss.

Poetically wrought and filled with insight into intergenerational trauma, Native Country of the Heart is a reckoning with white American history and a piercing love letter from a fearless daughter to the mother she will never lose.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

One of Literary Hub's Most Anticipated Books of 2019

"Starred Review. A sympathetic portrait of Mexican-American feminism (both in mother and daughter) delivered in a poignant, beautifully written way." - Kirkus

"A memoir that transcends chronology and the personal ... Moraga's determination to honor her mother while encouraging Mexican Americans to uncover and rescue their own forgotten legacies is a tour de force recommended for every collection." - Booklist

"I love A Native Country of the Heart's forthright blending of a bio of Moraga's intriguing powerhouse mom, Elivira, with Moraga's own queer evolution...This book is a coup." - Eileen Myles, author of Afterglow

"A beautiful, painful, funny, heartening and heartfelt immersion in the life of one of the leading voices of Latino/a literature, our very own Cherríe Moraga...like all of Moraga's work, charts the unmapped and unspoken territories of body, mind, heart and soul and refuses to be confined by any border or genre. Her memoir is a defiant, deep and soulful book about all our mothers, mother cultures, motherlands and languages." - Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies

"Cherríe Moraga, a foundational contributor to modern Feminism, grapples with her fierce but withholding Mexican mother who - despite their struggles - remains her strongest touchstone of identification. A raw and vulnerable story of acceptance hard won." - Sarah Schulman, author of The Cosmopolitans and Conflict is Not Abuse

"In crisp prose and poetic diction, Cherríe Moraga enlivens her irrepressible mother with shape and story, sadness and charm, abriendo puertas to memory and forgetting, how interlocked they are, to how ghosts and people occupy the same space. It is a journey of deep personal discovery that is riveting and necessary." - Luis J. Rodríguez, author of Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.

"This a great book. In telling her mother's life-story Cherríe Moraga ruthlessly examines her own heart and the deep complications of growing up mixed race and lesbian in a racist culture. But she also lays bare the spiritual core that strengthens and sustains her. The heart, the soul, familia and tribe, the native country is as narrow as the space between clenched fingers and as wide as the sightlines to the horizon." - Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina

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More Information

Cherríe Moraga is a writer and cultural activist whose work serves to disrupt the dominant narratives of gender, race, sexuality, feminism, indigeneity, and literature in the United States. A co-founder of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, Moraga co-edited the highly influential volume This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color in 1981. After twenty years as an Artist-in-Residence in Theater at Stanford University, Moraga was appointed a professor in the Department of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2018, where, with her artistic partner Celia Herrera Rodríguez, she instituted Las Maestras Center for Xicana Indigenous Thought and Art Practice. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Theatre Playwriting Fellowship Award and a United States Artist Rockefeller Fellowship for Literature.

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