A Fire in the Earth
by Marcos McPeek Villatoro
Publication Date: 1996
A devastating earthquake gives birth to the tumultuous saga that follows an Indian patriarch as he leads his clan to claim the moist, fertile soil that rises out of the tremors and destruction. Amid chaos and catastrophe, the human spirit is challenged to discover its true strength in Marcos McPeek Villatoro’s spellbinding novel, A Fire in the Earth.
The birth of a child at the exact moment of simultaneous death and rebirth in the aftermath of the tremors is an omen of joy and prosperity for the Colónez family and the settlers of El Comienzo, The Beginning, as the colony is named. But in this epic story that captures the trials of a Central American nation during the first three decades of this century, setting the stage for the tragedies of the last twenty years, happiness is short-lived. Faced with overwhelming competition from foreign entrepreneurs, the Colónez family starves on this promised land, now a forest of coffee trees that enriches the absentee landlords, the ruling families. The clan is split; the stage is set for civil war.
McPeek Villatoro’s epic tale is a monument to the people of Central America. A Fire in the Earth keeps faith with all tempestuous elements and outrages—the courage, the suffering, and the ultimate liberation—in the remarkable lives it narrates. Fast-paced, yet poetic, this powerful novel is a page-turner that invites no interruption.
“…an imaginative testimony on behalf of an entire people.”–Publishers Weekly
MARCOS MCPEEK VILLATORO, a poet and novelist, is the author of a series of novels featuring detective Romilia Chacón: Home Killings (Arte Público Press, 2001), the first, was named a Best Book of 2001 by the Los Angeles Times Book Review; Minos: A Romilia Chacón Mystery (Justin, Charles & Co., 2003) and A Venom Beneath the Skin (Justin, Charles & Co., 2005) followed. His other works include The Holy Spirit of My Uncle’s Cojones (Arte Público Press, 1999); a finalist in the Independent Publisher Book Award 2000, They Say that I Am Two (Arte Público Press, 1997); a highly-praised book of poetry, A Fire in the Earth (Arte Público Press, 1996); a historical novel set in El Salvador; and a non-fiction work, Walking toward La Milpa: Living in Guatemala with Armies, Demons, Abrazos and Death (Moyer/Bell Publishing, 1996). McPeek Villatoro’s short stories, both in English and Spanish, appear in literary magazines, such as Brownbag Press, Crossworlds and Latino Stuff Review, and he also writes feature articles for diverse magazines. He graduated from the University of Iowa in 1985 with a master’s degree in English Literature. A regular commentator for NPR, McPeek Villatoro, The Fletcher Jones Endowed Chair in Creative Writing at Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles, lives in Van Nuys with his wife and four children.