We are very pleased to announce that Todos Santos is now available for order from the BLP website. Todos Santos is a rich, textured novel of Guatemala that follows the experiences of a woman named Catherine Barnes who makes a sort of escape into the mountain town after which the novel is named. When Catherine leaves home and her adulterous husband to explore Todos Santos, she brings her paints and her wayward adolescent son. Catherine sets out in hopes of finding an intangible something, a new direction perhaps, and an ability to get through to her son who has just flunked out of the eighth grade. She never expects that her journey will include nearly losing her son to kidnappers, witnessing a lynching that almost ruins the town of Todos Santos which she comes to love quite deeply, or rediscovering her own womanhood.
While you’re waiting for your copy to arrive, enjoy this passage from the first chapter of the novel:
…The sun broke through the clouds when they reached the main street of town, as if in welcome. Dun-colored paving stones were bordered by raised concrete sidewalks just wide enough to accommodate a person leaning against a stucco wall, watching the village go by. The buildings were two-storied, and the street-level doorways and windows opened into shops—a hardware, a pharmacy, a foreign mail and package service—unprepossessing shops full of third-world sundries, papers and plastics of a type Catherine never saw in Iowa, thinner, brighter in color, poorer in quality. Oswaldo inched the van along the street against a tide of people walking, all the women in dark indigo skirts and the hand-woven blouses called huipiles. In their vibrant magentas, reds, and blues, their long hair black and glossy, the women were almost indistinguishable in their beauty. The men were bright against the dusty street in red-and-white-striped pants, the signature of Todos Santos, and pale shirts with broad embroidered collars. The women balanced bundles and baskets on their heads; the men wore straw hats and short black chaps that swung about their thighs with an alluring swagger. Bands of children scampered among them, the street their playground. The van felt out of place here. Catherine wanted to be walking, among the people, in rhythm with them.
They made a sharp turn up a steep stone street. A few doors up they stopped under a sign for the Hotel Todosantero. A young woman in the doorway struggled with a crying child. The woman’s thick black eyebrows wrinkled in a frown. The child, a girl about three, Catherine guessed, with tousled hair and a dirty face, stamped her foot, broke away, and ran inside. The woman’s dark eyes reached out and met Catherine’s, conveying a wordless message, a communion of mothers. She shrugged and spread her hands.
In that instant Catherine figured out what had scared her so much the night before. Not where she was going, but what she was running away from. Her life. And now, just when she needed it, escape appeared in front of her, beckoning. The woman invited them inside, saying she had available rooms. She took them through a dining room onto a terrace. From here Catherine could see below her the town plaza, its austere white church, red-tiled rooftops left and right, and across the valley, the mountains rising in a green wall, keeping out the world. The woman’s name was Nicolasa. Make yourselves at home, she said. Catherine already felt she belonged here, in this high valley, on this terrace. Maybe she would never go back…
You can learn more about Todos Santos and Deborah Clearman by watching the book trailer for the novel.