By Pamela Ditchoff
Liverpool, NS, Canada
Whenever I need a touch of magic in my life, I turn to my bookshelf reserve for my collection of novels by authors of Spanish and Latin American descent. They are the masters of magic realism: Isabel Allende, Laura Esquivel, Rudolfo Anaya, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Ana Castillo, to name a few.
Peel My Love Like An Onion by Ana Castillo is the story of Carmen "La Coja" Santos, a well-known flamenco dancer in Chicago. Carmen had polio as a child, and has the use of only one leg. It is a passionate love story, a love triangle, and a lesson in the power of love to raise you up and beat you down. Regardless, Carmen is a spitfire.
There are many reasons for my love of Spanish/Latino magic realism fiction, however, I can sum these up by saying it is a fiction that is alive with color, song and shouts, fragrances of flowers and food, with survival and celebration.
Barbara Kingsolver said of Peel My Love Like An Onion in a Los Angeles Times Book Review:
"Could be the offspring of a union between One Hundred Years of Solitude and General Hospital—a magical melodramatic love child who won't sit down or—the reader can only hope—will never shut up… impossible to resist."
Carmen's life is a life lived to the fullest, and Castillo deftly blends poetic passages with Chicagoan humor sending the reader on a roller coaster of emotions. Hold onto you seat and enjoy the ride.