A fascinating immersion into a little-known world, written with tenderness and humanity.


An aging faith healer recounts practicing her calling amid gender-based violence, loss, celebrity, and murder in Mexican author Lozano's second novel to appear in English.

In Feliciana's poor, hardworking family, the gift of healing is passed from fathers to sons, not daughters. It's her cousin Paloma who teaches her the art, shot through with Christian faith, and the herbs and mushrooms to use. Born male, Paloma is Muxe—a third gender accepted among the Zapotec people since pre-colonial times. Once she began to identify this way, changed her name, and began to sleep with men, she gave up being a curandero and began to train Feliciana, who goes on to achieve worldwide renown. Narrated from the alternating points of view of Feliciana and Zoe, a journalist who's interviewing her, the stories weave around both women's struggles to find their voices and make their own ways. Feliciana endures a hardscrabble childhood and an alcoholic husband, then other people's jealousy at her success. Zoe grieves her late father and deferred dreams. But the most vibrant character is Paloma, whose murder is reported in the first sentence. Earlier, having been beaten for being Muxe and left with a scar on her face, she wore a brooch to call attention to it: "We don’t hide our scars, we show them off." As in Loop (2021), Lozano eschews traditional narrative for the discursive pleasures of voice. "Paloma once said to me, she said, Feliciana, love, shaman, curandera, witch, those words are all too small for you because yours is the Language, you are the curandera of the Language, and yours too is the Book. And Paloma also said once, Feliciana, love, it’s not always necessary to cure mankind because men aren’t always ill, but men are always necessary and good for what ails the Muxe in me, dear." A sensitive, informative translator's note explains that Feliciana is loosely based on a Oaxacan curandera internationally famous in the 1950s and '60s.

A fascinating immersion into a little-known world, written with tenderness and humanity.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64622-068-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Catapult

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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A flabby, fervid melodrama of a high-strung Southern family from Conroy (The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline), whose penchant for overwriting once again obscures a genuine talent. Tom Wingo is an unemployed South Carolinian football coach whose internist wife is having an affair with a pompous cardiac man. When he hears that his fierce, beautiful twin sister Savannah, a well-known New York poet, has once again attempted suicide, he escapes his present emasculation by flying north to meet Savannah's comely psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. Savannah, it turns out, is catatonic, and before the suicide attempt had completely assumed the identity of a dead friend—the implication being that she couldn't stand being a Wingo anymore. Susan (a shrink with a lot of time on her hands) says to Tom, "Will you stay in New York and tell me all you know?" and he does, for nearly 600 mostly-bloated pages of flashbacks depicting The Family Wingo of swampy Colleton County: a beautiful mother, a brutal shrimper father (the Great Santini alive and kicking), and Tom and Savannah's much-admired older brother, Luke. There are enough traumas here to fall an average-sized mental ward, but the biggie centers around Luke, who uses the skills learned as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam to fight a guerrilla war against the installation of a nuclear power plant in Colleton and is killed by the authorities. It's his death that precipitates the nervous breakdown that costs Tom his job, and Savannah, almost, her life. There may be a barely-glimpsed smaller novel buried in all this succotash (Tom's marriage and life as a football coach), but it's sadly overwhelmed by the book's clumsy central narrative device (flashback ad infinitum) and Conroy's pretentious prose style: ""There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1986

ISBN: 0553381547

Page Count: 686

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

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A quick, biting critique of the publishing industry.

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What happens when a midlist author steals a manuscript and publishes it as her own?

June Hayward and Athena Liu went to Yale together, moved to D.C. after graduation, and are both writers, but the similarities end there. While June has had little success since publication and is struggling to write her second novel, Athena has become a darling of the publishing industry, much to June’s frustration. When Athena suddenly dies, June, almost accidentally, walks off with her latest manuscript, a novel about the World War I Chinese Labour Corps. June edits the novel and passes it off as her own, and no one seems the wiser, but once the novel becomes a smash success, cracks begin to form. When June faces social media accusations and staggering writer’s block, she can’t shake the feeling that someone knows the truth about what she’s done. This satirical take on racism and success in the publishing industry at times veers into the realm of the unbelievable, but, on the whole, witnessing June’s constant casual racism and flimsy justifications for her actions is somehow cathartic. Yes, publishing is like this; finally someone has written it out. At times, the novel feels so much like a social media feed that it’s impossible to stop reading—what new drama is waiting to unfold. and who will win out in the end? An incredibly meta novel, with commentary on everything from trade reviews to Twitter, the ultimate message is clear from the start, which can lead to a lack of nuance. Kuang, however, does manage to leave some questions unanswered: fodder, perhaps, for a new tweetstorm.

A quick, biting critique of the publishing industry.

Pub Date: May 16, 2023

ISBN: 9780063250833

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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