Lotería

Mario Alberto Zambrano, Author
Mario Alberto Zambrano. Harper, $21.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-226854-9
Reviewed on: 04/29/2013
Release date: 07/01/2013
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-229315-2
Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-06-226856-3
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-06-226855-6
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Lotería is the card-based Mexican variant of bingo and, in the hands of Zambrano, it’s a deck stacked with narrative possibilities. Following her mother’s disappearance and the arrest of her father, 11-year-old Luz María Castillo dwells in the netherworld between state custody and return to Mexico, which her family left before she was born. But Luz is no stranger to in-between states, and, rendered mute by trauma, she addresses her history to God using the Lotería cards that are her sole possession. What follows are 53 chapters, each corresponding to a pictograph—beginning with “La Araña” (the spider) and ending with “La Rana” (the frog). The accompanying sketches assemble Luz’s fractious family life in equally jagged fragments, some tender as “La Dama” (the lady), others deadly as “El Alacán” (the scorpion). The two central figures in Luz’s recollections are her Papí, a tortured alcoholic who terrorizes his family, and her older sister Estrella, who pays a steep price for defying her father. And yet Luz’s strongest memories are of the Mexican border town where she vacations, mariachi music, fireworks, and the roses in her yard. From these, Zambrano coaxes a language that straddles pictures and words, Spanish and English. An intriguing debut and an elegiac, miniature entry in the literature of Latin American diaspora that will break your heart. Agent: Chris Parris-Lamb, the Gernert Company. (July)
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