Velorio: Book summary and reviews of Velorio by Xavier Navarro Aquino

Velorio

A Novel

by Xavier Navarro Aquino

Velorio by Xavier Navarro Aquino X
Velorio by Xavier Navarro Aquino
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2022
    272 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Set in the wake of Hurricane Maria, Xavier Navarro Aquino's unforgettable debut novel follows a remarkable group of survivors searching for hope on an island torn apart by both natural disaster and human violence.

Camila is haunted by the death of her sister, Marisol, who was caught by a mudslide during the huracán. Unable to part with Marisol, Camila carries her through town, past the churchyard, and, eventually, to the supposed utopia of Memoria.

Urayoán, the idealistic, yet troubled cult leader of Memoria, has a vision for this new society, one that in his eyes is peaceful and democratic. The paradise he preaches lures in the young, including Bayfish, a boy on the cusp of manhood, and Morivivi, a woman whose outward toughness belies an inner tenderness for her friends. But as the different members of Memoria navigate Urayoán's fiery rise, they will need to confront his violent authoritarian impulses in order to find a way to reclaim their home.

Velorio—meaning "wake"—is a story of strength, resilience, and hope; a tale of peril and possibility buoyed by the deeply held belief in a people's ability to unite against those corrupted by power.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Inspired by Hurricane Maria's assault on Puerto Rico in 2017, Aquino presents a broader examination of loss, trauma, rebuilding, and even the notion of utopia...Aquino mixes Spanish into the English text and stacks up details and characters, trusting the readers to engage with the world he creates, which is richer for all that is implied and unexplained. This is a demanding read that rouses high emotions and offers no simplistic resolutions." - Booklist (starred review)

"Navarro Aquino debuts with an elegiac and fervent ode to Puerto Rico that opens in the wake of 2017's Hurricane Maria...This lyrical and emotionally raw story will leave readers reflecting on the pain and promise of memory." - Publishers Weekly

"Aquino's subject is rich enough; his prose threatens to overwhelm it. An intriguing debut that flounders under the weight of its own lyricism." - Kirkus Reviews

"The wake of Hurricane Maria—a storm so powerful and its effects so cat­astrophic that Maria has been retired from the cir­culation of names used by the National Weather Service—provides the energy for this remarkable, mythic novel, populated by a memorable cast." - BookPage

"[An] ambitious, movingly lyrical debut novel from Xavier Navarro Aquino that looks at the real-life tragedy of Hurricane Maria's impact on Puerto Rico through a grief-soaked, phantasmagorical lens...Velorio has apocalyptic fires and savage violence, but its most powerful moments are the quiet, searching ones...Aquino's gift is translating...historical pain into the turbulent inner lives of his characters." - Shelf Awareness

"Velorio is a novel reckoning with the tragic event of the great Puerto Rican hurricane and a vibrant examination of quiet lives in extremis. It is an assured, brilliant debut from a new, gifted writer." - Chigozie Obioma, award-winning author of An Orchestra of Minorities

"This debut novel traces a group of survivors who fall under the spell of an authoritarian cult leader in the days following Hurricane Maria's destruction in Puerto Rico. It is deeply imagined and deeply felt – imagistic and strange and haunting – and simmering with grief and rage." - Gabriela Garcia, New York Times bestselling author of Of Women and Salt

This information about Velorio 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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Author Information

Xavier Navarro Aquino

Xavier Navarro Aquino was born and raised in Puerto Rico. His fiction has appeared in Tin House, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, and Guernica. His poetry has appeared in the Caribbean Writer and is anthologized in Thicker Than Water: New Writing from the Caribbean. He has been awarded scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, a Tennessee Williams scholarship from the Sewanee Writers' Conference, and a MacDowell Fellowship. He holds an M.A. in English Caribbean Studies from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He is currently an ACLS Emerging Voices Fellow at Dartmouth College.

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