Kissing the Virgin's Mouth Summary and Reviews

Kissing the Virgin's Mouth

A Novel

by Donna M Gershten

Kissing the Virgin's Mouth by Donna M Gershten X
Kissing the Virgin's Mouth by Donna M Gershten
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2001
    240 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Kissing the Virgin's Mouth is a novel about love, the power of sex, and the struggles of women. It is about the secrets of survival. It is about what a woman can do.

Kissing the Virgin's Mouth is the fictional memoir of Guadalupe Magdalena Molina Vásquez -- wife, scoundrel, courtesan, and mother. In a world where gender and class roles are unbending, and religion predominant, Magda creates a philosophy of life that she can thrive in, a religion of cynical optimism, pragmatism, and determined gratitude. The invincible yet fallible Magda climbs from the poor barrio of a coastal Mexican town to American affluence, from wide-eyed childhood to worldly courtesan life, from full-blooded youth to oncoming blindness.

In the Golden Zone of Teatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico, where tourists and wealthy Mexicans thrive and where poor Mexicans come only to work or to visit the shrine of the miracle baby Jesus, Guadalupe Magdalena Molina Vásquez performs her daily ritual. In the chair of her beloved Tía Chucha, mortared to the roof of her Golden Zone home, Magda shaves her long legs, tells her life stories, and thrusts her fierce prayers of gratitude toward the Sea of Cortés.

"More cabrón than hunger is the person who has suffered it," Magda says, and in her unsentimental and savvy fashion, she recounts her life strategies -- seasoned with an earthy, hard-earned wisdom -- so that she might pass them along to her half-American daughter, Martina, and to her young Mexican cousin, Isabel.

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Book Awards

  • award image PEN/Bellwether Prize, 2000

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Gershten's appropriation of Mexican themes and language--Spanish colloquialisms pepper the text--may strike some readers as condescending, but this spirited novel...will ultimately win over most skeptics." - Publishers Weekly

"Sensual and ironic, dramatic and sensitive, Gershten's insightful cross-cultural novel astutely weighs the inequities between men and women, rich and poor." - Booklist

" This deeply moving work should find a place in the fiction collections of both academic and public libraries." - Library Journal

Lively and pungent…[Gershten] makes Magdalena a rich and contradictory character—and, moreover, a canny storyteller in her own right." - Los Angeles Times

"Captivating…full of passion and courage…a work of insight and imagination, as well as narrative strength and seductive language." - Washington Post Book World

This information about Kissing the Virgin's Mouth shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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More Information

Donna M. Gershten was born in eastern North Carolina and later lived for some years in Sinaloa, Mexico, where she ran a fitness and community center. She returned to the United States, received a master of fine arts in creative writing from Warren Wilson College, and began to publish short stories in literary journals. Gershten now divides her time between the Huerfano Valley in southern Colorado and Denver. Kissing the Virgin's Mouth is her first novel.

Gershten was the first recipient of the $25,000 Bellwether Prize for Fiction in recognition of her debut novel Kissing the Virgin's Mouth as "a literature of social change." The Bellwether Prize was established by award-winning author Barbara Kingsolver, to promote literature of "social responsibility" and "political boldness and complexity." Barbara Kingsolver announced Donna M. Gershten as the first recipient of the prize, by press release, in May 2000.

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