Silvio Sirias‘s first novel, Bernardo and the Virgin (Northwestern University Press, 2007), takes the reader on a phenomenal journey to the village of Cuapa in Chontales, Nicaragua. The book fictionalizes the story of a campesino to whom the Holy Virgin appeared in 1980. Sirias’s new book, MEET ME UNDER THE CEIBA, from Arte Publico Press, which won the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize, is also a work of fiction, but based on a true crime that occurred in 1999 and on the very real intolerance of Nicaraguan culture to homosexuality: “Everyone knew that wealthy land owner Don Roque RamÃrez wanted Adela Rugama dead. And on Christmas Day, Adela disappeared. It was two months before her murdered body was found.”
Sirias has a way of bringing everyday Nicaraguan life to Englishs-speaking readers in an easy, accurate way, which is enjoyableâ€”and nostalgic for those of us who have lived there (In fact, CEIBA takes place in and near my Peace Corps training village of Pio XII).
Here is an extended (45 minutes!) radio interview with Silvio Sirias on KUHF about his background, about Nicaraguan life, about gay rights (and lack thereof) in Latin America, and about the characters and story of MEET ME UNDER THE CEIBA. Stay tuned for more about this wonderful book. In the meantime, view the book trailer for CEIBA here, and find it on Amazon.com here.