Doña Amada can see more through one eye than most people can see with two. She can see the past and the future, in spite of the shiny marble serving as her second eye, which was ripped out by her husband’s jealous lover.
Gossip and speculation about the mysterious disappearance of Amada’s rival swirl around the neighborhood. Rumor has it her remains are buried, scattered in parts of Westchester County. Others swear they have seen her ghost—having collected all her essential parts—swimming in the river, trying to make her way back to the Bronx.
Gallardo’s comic novel about a Puerto Rican community in New York introduces a cast of quirky characters, including Amada’s husband, Alberto, or Albertico as the adoring women call him, and her mother Esperanza, who everyone knows is a witch. Family feuds, births and deaths, christenings and funerals—and even a lost, wandering spirit—are hilariously sketched in this short novel about an eccentric Cuban/Nuyorican family and the neighbors who delight in their shenanigans and missteps.
Click here to listen to an interview with Yolanda Gallardo about her book, The Glass Eye.
“A good-natured domestic comedy set amid the Puerto Rican community in the Bronx. “Doña Amada could see more through her one eye than most people could see with two,” begins Gallardo’s trim debut. “She could see the past and she could see the future, but the present was left to the bright shiny marble that had replaced her eye, torn from its socket by her husband’s jealous mistress.” And so begins the story of Amada and her passively philandering husband, Alberto, always the Lothario of the neighborhood and the apple of his doting parents’ eyes. And the story of Alberto’s parents, Don Pepitón and Doña Antonia, who disapproved of their son’s union from the start—in part Amada is a rival for Alberto’s affections, and in part because everyone knows that Amada’s mother, Doña Esperanza, is a witch. As the interfamily saga continues, we get to know Pepitón’s brother Pedro, who runs a gas station, and his other brother, Che, and Alberto’s vengeful paramour, Sarah—the one who will, years later, be responsible for Amada’s missing eye—and Sarah’s mother Doña María, a Pentecostal gossip. Everyone knows everyone, and there is a story about everyone; every relationship has a history, and Gallardo playfully recounts them all. Charming.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Poet and playwright Gallardo brings a Latinx Bronx barrio to vivid life in this charming costumbrista (a literature of local customs and manners) style novel that tells the story of how Doña Amada got her glass eye. Doña Amada’s younger daughter Iliana, now an adult, provides the framing perspective for this tale brimming with Nuyorican vitality, magic, and family dynamics. Rivalries and passions play out in the barrio’s communal spaces of the bodega, the garage, the bar, the apartments, the church. Although Amada’s mother, Esperanza, is the barrio’s respected bruja (seer), Amada rejects her advice and marries Alberto, the barrio’s bad boy, thus falling under the smothering influence of her mother-in-law. Guilty of spoiling her only son rotten, Antonia is overbearing to say the least. Tragically, Sarah, the local puta (floozie), desires Alberto, and she is not above using deadly black magic to get her way. The legend and sightings of Sarah’s ghost kick off the action in this fun and engaging read.”—Booklist
YOLANDA GALLARDO is a poet, playwright, and novelist born in the Bronx to parents of Cuban and Venezuelan/Puerto Rican heritage. Her play, Everybody Knows My Business, has been performed in Puerto Rico and optioned for Off Broadway. She’s the author of a digital poetry collection, The Fragile Thread (Word Wrangler Press), and her poems have been published in journals including Long Shot Magazine and Chiricú. She lives and works in Bronxville, New York.