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A fableistic, “curious and dazzling” debut novel of enormous power and grace about a sister trying to hold back her brother from the edge of the abyss for readers of Jesmyn Ward and Tommy Orange (Booklist, starred review).
In the tourist town of Ciudad de Tres Hermanas, in the aftermath of their mother’s passing, two siblings spend a final weekend together in their childhood home. Seeing her brother, Rafa, careening toward a place of no return, Rufina devises a bet: if they can make enough money performing for privileged tourists in the plaza over the course of the weekend to afford a plane ticket out, Rafa must commit to living. If not, Rufina will make her peace with Rafa’s own plan for the future, however terrifying it may be.
As the siblings reckon with generational and ancestral trauma, set against the indignities of present-day prejudice, other strange hauntings begin to stalk these pages: their mother’s ghost kicks her heels against the walls; Rufina’s vanished child creeps into her arms at night; and above all this, watching over the siblings, a genderless, flea-bitten angel remains hell-bent on saving what can be saved.
A Rumpus Most Anticipated Book of Next Year
“Beautifully crafted, poetic book.”
–New York Times
“Though the novel brims with spellbinding prose, magical elements, and wounded, full hearted characters that nearly jump off the page, its most remarkable feature is perhaps its piercing critique of the white Anglo tourists’ tendency to romanticize people of color, as well as Figueroa’s examination of the traumatic effect this attitude can have on those who are deemed “the Other.” This cleverly constructed and deeply moving account enthralls.”
–Publishers Weekly Starred Review
“Brimming with elegant, poetic writing, Figueroa has offered us a truly original debut. An absolute must read.”
“A lyrical contemplation of how we can never run away from our past, Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer is an exquisitely woven story about resilience and trauma.”
“Curious and dazzling first novel”
–The Booklist Reader
“Poetic, unique and engrossing.”
–The Brooklyn Rail
“Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer is so full of voice. It is utterly bright and original.”
—Tommy Orange, author of There There
“Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer is a haunting of a novel centered around the hustle of an utterly unforgettable brother and sister. Jamie Figueroa’s faultless language surprises, enchants, and does nothing less than articulate that which is unseen and eaten by profound grief. Supervised by a wild, booted angel (a character for the ages), this marvel of a first novel seems powered by a force that wrecks itself and is made glorious, again and again, until its stunning conclusion. Singular, devastating, and divine.”
—Marie-Helene Bertino, author of Parakeet
“In language that is blade-sharp and sun-bright, Jamie Figueroa weaves a story of generations of love and loss that is powerful and aching and utterly new. Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer will never, ever leave me.”
—Ramona Ausubel, author of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty and No One Is Here Except All of Us
“Jamie Figueroa’s writing is decadent. Sentences in this book require the reader to breathe and sigh with the revelation of their beauty; others slap you in the face with their sharp assumptiveness. Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer begins in prayer and does what prayer does—gives us hope, reveals our deepest griefs, and sometimes even redeems.”
—Tiphanie Yanique, author of Land of Love and Drowning –This text refers to the hardcover edition.