Excerpt from The Lost Book of Adana Moreau by Michael Zapata, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Lost Book of Adana Moreau

by Michael Zapata

The Lost Book of Adana Moreau by Michael Zapata X
The Lost Book of Adana Moreau by Michael Zapata
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2020, 272 pages
    Jul 2021, 304 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Dean Muscat
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The Lost Book of Adana Moreau

His father was a pirate. He had black skin and was a pirate. Regardless of his occupation, or maybe because of it, he was charming and warmhearted and loved listening to most any-body who had a story to tell. His mother was a servant to an old Spanish sugar plantation family just outside of San Pedro de Macorís. It was said she had Taíno blood in her veins and never lied. She had long, coffee-colored hair and all she had known her entire life was the plantation house where she worked with her mother, the seas of the Antilles, and her parents.

On May 16th, 1916, the American Marines landed on the island and her mother and father were killed in the ensuing guerrilla war waged by the peasant gavilleros against the Marines, who, according to her father, were nothing more than tígueritos hired by greedy American businessmen who wanted to force them off their land to expand the sugar plantations. The night before her parents' deaths, she had been half-asleep watching an ashy-faced owl perched outside her bedroom window when she heard her parents in the kitchen. She got out of bed. It was nearly midnight.

"We should leave now," her mother said.

Her father put his finger to his lips and her mother nodded.

"In the morning," her father whispered.

Her mother and father stood in the kitchen and held each other and she noticed there was blood on her father's pants. She understood then that her father and mother were gavilleros. When her mother spotted her over her father's shoulders, she smiled and went to her. Her mother stroked her long, coffee-colored hair, just as she had done when she was a child, and told her that the world was the same as it ever was and not to worry.

First thing in the morning, the American Marines came to their home. They dragged her parents outside, bound their hands, and made them kneel in the sand. She heard the shots while hiding under their little village house where there were small pools of water and dirt and sand and dirty-ashen seashells. Once in a century, her father had told her, the sea f looded the land and for a time neither existed.

Two days later her family's employers decided to leave for New York City or back to Madrid, she couldn't remember, but the important thing is they f led to a city that wealthy people have been fleeing to for centuries. The last thing they told her before speeding off in a taxi was that the Antilles were brutal and she was one of the last of a brutal race. She thought of her mother, who had worked for the Spanish family for nearly thirty years. She was sixteen. She didn't want to go home, so she lived alone in the plantation house for two months, wandering from room to room, eating what was left in the kitchen, cleaning as she had done before, and sleeping for days at a time on a bed that had once belonged to a queen from the House of Bourbon.

One afternoon, she packed her clothes and left the plantation house. She headed west, toward Santo Domingo, sometimes walking for long stretches at a time along the coast which was dotted with estates and villages without names (or rather names she had never known) and sometimes riding in the back of a cart driven by a sugar worker who understood without saying so that she was the daughter of murdered gavilleros. For five weeks she wandered the streets of Santo Domingo, which were like the streets of a labyrinth, and ate fish and bread scraps at the market. At night, she slept on park benches and dreamed of future civilizations and an endless seabed full of strange luminescent creatures.

At the end of five weeks, she met an American in the market who said he was trading with the gavilleros and the American Marines. She didn't know why, but she told him the story of how the American Marines had killed her parents. He listened without saying a word. When she was done, he said that he was really a pirate. He said that he gave the gavilleros a deep discount and sold shoddy equipment to the American Marines at high prices. He was making money hand over fist. He apologized for talking so much and then he said she was beautiful. He said he had never seen a more beautiful woman in the Caribbean than her. She told him that his Spanish was good, if a little outdated. He said that he also spoke French and some Arabic. The pirate studied her face for a moment and then said he could get her on a ship that would take her to New Orleans. She shook her head.

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Excerpted from The Lost Book of Adana Moreau by Michael Zapata. Copyright © 2020 by Michael Zapata. Excerpted by permission of Hanover Square Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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