cover image Freedom Is a Feast

Freedom Is a Feast

Alejandro Puyana. Little, Brown, $29 (448p) ISBN 978-0-316-57178-4

Puyana debuts with a gripping story of a family shaped by Venezuela’s tumultuous history during the Cold War and early 21st century. In 1964, 20-something Stanislavo Atanas joins a leftist guerrilla movement, through which he meets and falls in love with Emiliana Rodriguez. After he’s captured and imprisoned by the government, he makes a dramatic escape. Emiliana then reveals she’s six months pregnant with their child, but the couple are separated again as Stanislavo prioritizes freeing his comrades from prison, prompting Emiliana to vow he’ll never know his child. In 2002, after Emiliana has died of breast cancer, their daughter, Maria, rushes her nine-year-old son, Eloy, to the hospital after he’s wounded by a stray bullet during a gang fight. She unexpectedly meets Stanis, whom her mother told her about, and who’s now a reporter. Stanis helps save Eloy’s life, but Maria doesn’t reveal their connection to him. The wrenching final section, set in 2012, follows a grown-up Eloy as he faces a new kind of danger, prompting Maria to consider reaching out to Stanis for help. Puyana’s beautifully crafted narrative explores the complexity of his characters’ choices and loyalties. It’s impossible to put down. Agent: Emily Forland, Brandt & Hochman Literary. (Aug.)