Selena

Everything starts with little girls.
This little girl was walking down a white dirt farm road one day in June 1954. Her slender shadow was just twice her height. And it crossed the road in a westerly direction, reaching out nearly to the irrigation ditch that ran alongside. A single thick braid was bouncing up and down on her back. The braid was stiff and damp, for the little girl had just been swimming at the big Vanducci house on the hill. Plomp, plomp, plomp went her bare brown feet in the warm soft dirt, little puffs of dust blowing up in her track to settle slowly in the windless air.
Cradled in her long skinny arms she had a big nervous fighting cock with beady eyes. She’d found him by the side of the road just a moment before. And she was very happy to have met him there, for she’d had no idea that he had escaped from his pen in her mama’s backyard. The cock was brown and gold and purple. His feathers shone in the sun. He turned his head all the time, fast and jerky from side to side. Her eyes were like the bird’s eyes, black and darting. She turned her head like him too, looking everywhere.
Her name was Selena Cruz.
Surrounding her were vast fields of alfalfa, tomatoes, and sugar beets, cut through with irrigation canals and county roads, sliced like adobe cakes into gigantic squares. The valley was green where it was planted, brown where it was fallow, and wide: fifty miles from the yellow Diablo Range, which rose up directly behind her, to the blue Sierras on the horizon. Lengthwise its dimensions were beyond her imagination: five hundred miles from Red Bluff in the north to Bakersfield in the south.

Synopsis

Everything starts with little girls.
This little girl was walking down a white dirt farm road one day in June 1954. Her slender shadow was just twice her height. And it crossed the road in a westerly direction, reaching out nearly to the irrigation ditch that ran alongside. A single thick braid was bouncing up and down on her back. The braid was stiff and damp, for the little girl had just been swimming at the big Vanducci house on the hill. Plomp, plomp, plomp went her bare brown feet in the warm soft dirt, little puffs of dust blowing up in her track to settle slowly in the windless air.

A native Californian, I attended San Francisco State University, where I was granted several writing scholarships and a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. Since then, I have spent my life writing, teaching, and traveling the world. I have taught at the University of Hawaii, Hunter College, New York University, and the Sorbonne. I am a recipient of The Joseph Henry Jackson Award in Literature, and served for several years on the Fiction Award Committee of the National Endowment for The Arts in Washington.

“There is not an area of novel writing where the author is not scarily gifted. His plotting is intricate but never rings false or o obtrudes. His descriptions of places, scenes, machinery, processes, illuminate like flares. His ear for dialogue can handle English, Mexican-American and ‘pocho’ Spanish. His narrative pace is swift. His style is joyous and free. His feeling for character is mind-boggling. His amazing eye makes every page fresh. NO AMERICAN WRITER IN YEARS HAS PRODUCED SUCH A READABLE, DEEP AND FULLY REALIZED NOVEL!” San Diego Union

“Lusty, robust, pulsating, lyrical…authentic power!” Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

“A story as vibrant and earthy as its heroine and her people…a big, powerful novel, packed with action and alive with unforgettable characters!” Literary Guild Magazine

“Need not to be compared to Steinbeck; it stands on its own feet, speaks with its own fresh, strong voice!” Louiseville Courier Journal.

“Powerful!” Los Angeles Times

“This is storytelling at its best.” Dallas News

“SELENA is ardent storytelling. It sings of California’s spiritual landscape with unabashed gusto and native pride.” Thomas Sanchez, author of RABBIT BOSS.