June 03, 2024


By Marcela Fuentes
With her debut novel, Malas, Marcela Fuentes puts her own electrifying spin on the legend of La Llorona (the Weeping Woman), turning it into a fiery family epic teeming with rage, revenge and revolution.
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The legend of La Llorona (the Weeping Woman) has endured for centuries in Latinx culture, with roots tracing back to 1500s Mexico. A malevolent spirit who drowned her children after discovering her husband’s infidelity, La Llorona now roams the Earth cursing all who encounter her with lifelong misfortune and unhappiness. With her debut novel, Malas, Marcela Fuentes puts her own electrifying spin on this tale, updating it for the 21st century into a fiery family epic teeming with rage and revenge.

Set in the dusty border town of La Cienega, Texas, Malas follows two social outcasts separated by decades yet bound together in a surprising way. In 1951, Pilar Aguirre, mother to a young son and expecting her second child, is cursed by a crone who claims to be married to Pilar’s husband. The discord sown by this encounter ricochets through the subsequent weeks, months and years, rending relationships and ruining lives. Forty years later, another mysterious old woman appears in town, this time causing an uproar at the funeral of Lulu Muñoz’s grandmother. Headstrong and seeking to annoy her domineering father, 14-year-old Lulu strikes up a clandestine relationship with the stranger; as friendship blossoms and their connection deepens, the devastating way in which the two are linked gradually comes to light, dredging up old secrets that threaten to throw La Cienega into chaos once again.

Readers will devour Malas. Fuentes’ propulsive plotting; rich and precise depiction of Tejano culture; complex characters; and thoughtful exploration of female anger, grief and intergenerational trauma combine to form a fully immersive reading experience that—for all its specificity—will be compelling and meaningful to readers of all backgrounds. Brimming with brio, Fuentes’ deliciously defiant debut breathes new life into classic lore and heralds the arrival of a bold new literary powerhouse.

“[O]vercoming generational trauma might sometimes be related to not accepting a fate-driven narrative.” Read our Q&A with Marcela Fuentes about Malas.

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By Marcela Fuentes
ISBN 9780593655788

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