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4.0 

Grieving

By Cristina Rivera Garza & Sarah Booker
Grieving by Cristina Rivera Garza & Sarah Booker digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

Finalist for the 2020 National Book Critics’ Circle Award for Criticism

By one of Mexico's greatest contemporary writers, this investigation into state violence and mourning gives voice to the political experience of collective pain.

Grieving is a hybrid collection of short crónicas, journalism, and personal essays on systemic violence in contemporary Mexico and along the US-Mexico border. Drawing together literary theory and historical analysis, she outlines how neoliberalism, corruption, and drug trafficking—culminating in the misnamed “war on drugs”—has shaped her country. Working from and against this political context, Cristina Rivera Garza posits that collective grief is an act of resistance against state violence, and that writing is a powerful mode of seeking social justice and embodying resilience.

She states: “As we write, as we work with language—the humblest and most powerful force available to us—we activate the potential of words, phrases, sentences. Writing as we grieve, grieving as we write: a practice able to create refuge from the open. Writing with others. Grieving like someone who takes refuge from the open. Grieving, which is always a radically different mode of writing.”

“A lucid, poignant collection of essays and poetry. . . . deeply hopeful, ultimately love letters to writing itself, and to the power of language to overcome the silence that impunity imposes.” —New York Times Book Review

"For all the losses tallied, the pieces are imbued with optimism and an activist’s passion for reshaping the world." —The New Yorker

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5 Reviews

4.0
“In this essay collection, Garza opens with a really powerful statement on what it means to grieve and the relationship between grieving and writing. She discusses how grieving is an active thing which never stops happening but that through writing we constantly live through and learn to live with, and writing is one of the ways of moving through this grief. Garza lost her sister to a horrific femicide and this collection discusses the tragic epidemic of women losing their lives to murder in Mexico. It moves through the topic with a variety of lenses, using different case studies and giving a brief summary of the Mexican political system and background. I found some of the essays quite tough to get through and I think it was to do with Garza’s writing. As a lot of the essays are really short a lot of the information is crammed in and given to you quite intensely and so it’s a read you need to concentrate on at all times which is what took me a while to get used to and why I wouldn’t really say I enjoyed the essays, but found them absolutely invaluable nevertheless. I did however really enjoy the poems which bookended the collection and the last essay that discussed the pandemic was absolutely incredible. The bits about how the city is designed to be moved through in a vehicle and how hard it is to walk around a city but the pandemic brought back a sense of the wanderer to urban life is so fascinating. Having a good time discovering Garza and will be reading another non-fiction and fiction book from her very soon.”
“I didn't think I was going to like this book as much as I did, especially because this is a topic I've been avoiding for a long time now. Some of the essays felt a little abrupt in the way they ended and left me wanting for more, but that didn't make me less happy or grateful to read it. As someone who was raised in the North East of Mexico, and comes from a family of migrants (within and outside borders), I found myself heard and written about in these pages. I find this book to be one of the most honest narratives of the everyday mourning and the existential grief of those who survived - and witnessed others not surviving - la guerra contra el narco of the 21st century. This collection of essays makes me feel less alone in my grief, and it handled our pain with tenderness, respect, and resolve. I didn't think that a book this painful could also be a delight to read.”

About Cristina Rivera Garza

Cristina Rivera Garza is an award-winning author, translator, and critic. Her books, originally written in Spanish, have been translated into multiple languages. She is the recipient of the Roger Caillois Award for Latin American Literature (2013), the Anna Seghers-Preis (2005), and the only two-time winner of the International Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize (2001; 2009). In 2020, Rivera Garza was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Grant. She received her PhD in 2012 in Latin American history from the University of Houston, where she is currently Distinguished Professor in Hispanic Studies.

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