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Calligraphy of the Witch

Calligraphy of the Witch (Arte Público Press, 2012)

Born of a Spaniard and a mixed-race woman, young Concepcion Benavidez was apprenticed as a scribe to a convent. At nineteen, she escapes and is captured in the siege of Vera Cruz in 1683. She unexpectedly becomes the property of the Dutch pirate Laurens-Cornille de Graffe, who rapes her repeatedly on the long, deadly journey to the Massachusetts Bay Colony where he will sell his cargo. Realizing the young mestiza has fine penmanship, the pirate promptly sells her when they reach the cold New England coast.

Concepcion is thrust into a strange world where she doesn't understand the language or the customs. Bought by a prominent Puritan, Merchant Greenwood, to tend to his old father-in-law and his chicken farm, the girl from New Spain is regarded with suspicion. She is considered a papist half-breed who speaks the language of the devil and practices an ungodly religion. Greenwood immediately forbids her to speak her native tongue, and he changes her name to Thankful Seagraves.

The merchant's barren wife discovers that the girl is pregnant with the pirate's child. And she covets the baby. In the following years, the two women spar for the child's love and affection. But when several women in Salem Village, including Concepcion's friend Tituba Indian, are imprisoned for witchcraft, it's not long before people and even her own daughter start whispering about Concepcion. After all, doesn't she keep a cat for a familiar and burn letters for the dead in the woods? Doesn't she appear lasciviously in men's dreams? How else could she have coerced the old man to marry and free her?

This riveting historical novel combines the horror of the Salem witch trials with the philosophy and poetry of the nun and writer known as the first feminist of the Americas, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. Meticulously researched and elegantly written, this novel takes a mesmerizing look at women in the New World in the 17th century and the stubborn men who accuse them for no reason.

Book trailer for Calligraphy of the Witch

Hannah Jeremiah performed by Adelina Anthony (www.adelinaanthony.com).The Cat performed by Luna Azul. Video by Alma Lopez ©2008-2012

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Translations of Calligraphy of the Witch

Die Hexen-Schrift (German translation of Calligraphy of the Witch, trans. Susanne Goga-Klinkenberg. Berlin: Weltbild, 2010)

Calligraphy of the Witch German translation

Calligraphy of the Witch German translation

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Limited copies of hardcover version of Calligraphy of the Witch

The paperback version of this historical novel is available at your local/online bookstores. The hardcover version of this novel is no longer in print, and therefore only a limited number of copies are available.

If you would like a signed hardcover collectible first edition of this book, sent to you by the author, use the PayPal link below.

Calligraphy of the Witch: A Novel [Hardcover] (St. Martin's Press, 2007)

A spirited indentured servant gets tangled up in the 17th-century Massachusetts Bay Colony witch hunts in this ambitious historical drama. Halfway through her 15-year indenture at a Mexico City convent, Concepción Benavidez escapes only to be captured by pirates and taken to Boston, where she's sold into slavery. Nathaniel Greenwood, a local merchant, is impressed that the papist slave can write and purchases her to help his disabled father-in-law manage his chicken farm. Renamed Thankful Seagraves, Concepción, who was repeatedly raped by the pirate captain, soon discovers that she's pregnant. Greenwood's barren wife, Rebecca, covets Concepción's newborn daughter, Hanna, and sets out to take her away. As their struggle over the girl unfolds, witch hysteria grips the colony, and Concepción is drawn into the fray when Hanna fingers her for a witch. De Alba's recreation is undercut by thin characterizations—the men are mostly cruel and the women victims, the notable exception being Concepción, who clings to her dignity under the most trying conditions. But De Alba ( Sor Juana's Second Dream ) has a firm grasp of her historical material and portrays the pirate life as convincingly as the witch trials. Readers interested in the period will want to give this a look. (Oct.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Desert Blood

Desert Blood: The Juarez Murders (Arte Público Press, 2005)

Ivon Villa, a women's studies professor who needs to finish her dissertation in order to keep her job, travels to her hometown of El Paso to arrange for an adoption for herself and her female lover. Just across the border, however, the pregnant Juarez factory worker who agreed to give up her baby becomes the latest victim in a long string of unsolved murders of Mexican women in the area. Ivon vows to get past the secrecy, coverups, and conspiracy surrounding the terror-inflicting murders while dealing with her mother's disapproval, her cousin's alcoholism, and a renegade priest's activism. Offering a powerful depiction of social injustice and serial murder on the U.S.-Mexican border, this is an essential purchase for both mystery and Hispanic fiction collections. A native of the Juarez/El Paso border, Gaspar de Alba (Sor Juana's Second Dream) is an associate professor of Chicano studies and English at UCLA. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. (from www. barnesandnoble.com)

Winner of the Lambda Literary Foundation Award for Best Lesbian Mystery of 2005 and a Latino Book Award for Best English-Language Mystery of 2005.

More information at Desert Blood website at desertblood.net

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Italian and Spanish translations of Desert Blood

Calligraphy of the Witch German translation

Calligraphy of the Witch German translation

Alicia reads from Desert Blood for GuerrillaReads.

Sor Juana's Second Dream

Sor Juana's Second Dream (University of New Mexico Press, 1999)

In her first novel, poet and Chicano studies scholar Gaspar de Alba brings to life Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, a prolific, brilliant, and complex author and nun of 17th-century Mexico. Although Sor Juana left behind several volumes of published writings, the more personal details of her life remainsketchy. Gaspar de Alba has artfully combined excerpts from the writings with explicit, fictionalized journal entries to create a vibrant, if sometimes anachronistic, account of a complex life. Long adored in Mexico, Sor Juana has only recently become popular in the United States. She is often considered North America's first lesbian feminist writer, and Gaspar de Alba clearly shares this view. Eminently readable, this book is recommended for larger public libraries; readers desiring a more conservative biography might prefer Nobel laureate Octavio Paz's Sor Juana; or, The Traps of Faith (LJ 9/1/88).--Mary Margaret Benson, Linfield Coll. Lib., McMinnville, OR Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information. (from Library Journal and www.barnesandnoble.com)

Winner of the 2001 Latino Literary Hall of Fame Award for Best Historical Fiction

Cooking with Sor Juana is Alicia's blog at aliciagaspardealba.blogspot.com

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German and Spanish translations of Sor Juana's Second Dream

Calligraphy of the Witch German translation

Calligraphy of the Witch German translation

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Movie and Opera adaptations of Sor Juana's Second Dream

The Mexican actress, Ana de La Reguera will play Sor Juana in Juana de Asbaje, the film adaptation of my novel. I co-wrote the screen play with the film's director, Rene Bueno. Bruno Bichir, Joaquín Cosio, and Adriana Barraza will also star.

Also, I co-wrote the libretto with opera composer Carla Lucero for Juana! scheduled to premiere Fall 2018 at UCLA.

Calligraphy of the Witch German translation

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Limited copies of hardcover version of Sor Juana's Second Dream

The paperback version of this historical novel is available at your local/online bookstores. The hardcover version of this novel is no longer in print, and therefore only a limited number of copies are available.

If you would like a signed hardcover collectible first edition of this book, sent to you by the author, use the PayPal link below.

Sor Juana's Second Dream [Hardcover] (University of New Mexico Press, 1999)

Autograph Options
Indicate name for dedication.