Wednesday, August 16, 2006

New Book: The Scroll of Seduction, A Novel by Gioconda Belli



Gioconda Belli was born in Managua, Nicaragua in 1948. Belli was involved in the Nicaraguan Revolution from a very young age and occupied important positions in the Sandinista Party and the Nicaraguan Writer’s Union. She won the Casa de las Americas Prize in 1978 for her poetry book Line of Fire, and the prize for the Best Political Novel of the Year in Germany in 1989 for her novel The Inhabited Woman.

Her memoir The Country Under My Skin was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2003. She resigned from the Sandinista Party in 1993 and divides her time between Nicaragua and Los Angeles. She is married to Charles Castaldi and has four children. Her most recent novel, The Scroll of Seduction, will be published in English by Rayo in September 2006.


The Scroll of Seduction, A Novel
From Publishers Weekly:

How crazy was Juana La Loca, the Spanish queen who allegedly would not stop kissing her husband, Philippe the Handsome, even after he died? A Madrid professor enlists the help of a student and a silk dress to find out in the latest from Nicaraguan poet-memoirist-novelist Belli (The Country Under My Skin). While touring the Escorial, 17-year-old Lucia, a Latin American–born orphan attending a Madrid Catholic boarding school, meets Manuel, a 40-something professor who draws Lucia into his obsession with 16th-century Juana. Soon, Manuel dresses Lucia like Juana, and, as he seduces (and eventually impregnates) her, she channels Juana's spirit, allowing Belli to create—in sensuous detail—a turbulent, emotion-driven version of events that is at odds with historians' accounts of Juana's schizophrenia.

Juana, as Belli depicts her, was a passionate woman who fell victim to power-hungry relatives, and whose eccentric behavior may have been symptoms of bipolar disorder. (As Belli explains in an author's note, "any woman with a strong sense of self, confronted by the abuse and the arbitrary injustices she had to withstand, forced to accept her powerlessness in the face of an authoritarian system, would become depressed.") Belli's insights into Spanish culture prove provocative, aided by Dillman's faultless translation. (Sept.).

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