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Malas: A Novel (Hardcover)

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“A vivacious, page-turning novel of rebellion and rebirth.” —Xochitl Gonzalez, New York Times bestselling author of Olga Dies Dreaming and Anita de Monte Laughs Last

A story full of passion and revenge, following one family living on the Texas Mexico border and a curse that reverberates across generations"Fuentes has achieved something rare and indelible with this story of complex women.” (Erika L. Sánchez)
In 1951, a mysterious old woman confronts Pilar Aguirre in the small border town of La Cienega, Texas. The old woman is sure Pilar stole her husband and, in a heated outburst, lays a curse on Pilar and her family.

More than forty years later, Lulu Muñoz is dodging chaos at every turn: her troubled father’s moods, his rules, her secret life as singer in a punk band, but most of all her upcoming quinceañera. When her beloved grandmother passes away, Lulu finds herself drawn to the glamorous stranger who crashed the funeral and who lives alone and shunned on the edge of town.

Their unexpected kinship picks at the secrets of Lulu’s family’s past. As the quinceañera looms—and we move between these two strong, irascible female voices—one woman must make peace with the past, and one girl pushes to embrace her future.

Rich with cinematic details—from dusty rodeos to the excitement of a Selena concert and the comfort of conjunto ballads played at family gatherings—this memorable debut is a love letter to the Tejano culture and community that sustain both of these women as they discover what family means.

About the Author

Marcela Fuentes is a Pushcart Prize-winning fiction writer and essayist. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and was the 2016-2017 James C. McCreight Fiction Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. Her work has appeared in the Indiana Review, The Rumpus, Texas Highways Magazine, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and other journals. Her debut novel MALAS (June 2024) and linked story collection MY HEART HAS MORE ROOMS THAN A WHOREHOUSE are forthcoming from Viking Books. She lives in Fort Worth, Texas.

Praise For…

Malas is an antidote for the hard-line essentialism that has made this world an intolerant, violent place. Fuentes humanizes seemingly insoluble conflicts, both generational and cultural, with imperfect characters who are just doing their best, even when they know they are screwing up. She gives them something that many of us nonfictional people living and messing up in the world could use, and give back — grace.”
The New York Times Book Review

Malas is a machete: sharp, terrifying, and beautiful. Each character feels dynamic, familiar, and so utterly human in their glorious messiness. Fuentes has achieved something rare and indelible with this story of complex women.”
Erika L. Sánchez, New York Times bestseller author of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter and Crying in the Bathroom
“Fuentes’ propulsive plotting; rich and precise depiction of Tejano culture; complex characters; and thoughtful exploration of female anger, grief and intergenerational trauma combine to form a fully immersive reading experience that—for all its specificity—will be compelling and meaningful to readers of all backgrounds. Brimming with brio, Fuentes’ deliciously defiant debut breathes new life into classic lore and heralds the arrival of a bold new literary powerhouse.”
—BookPage Starred Review

“Fuentes seamlessly knits familiar history and urban legend with a heartfelt, modern, coming of age story to deliver a vivacious, page-turning novel of rebellion and rebirth. The truth, in the hands of Fuentes lively and beautiful prose, liberates these characters and the reader alike.”
—Xochitl Gonzalez, New York Times bestselling author of Olga Dies Dreaming

“Fuentes is a seamless storyteller: the narrative is rich in Mexican culture and fully realized characterizations, especially the defiant Lulu and the overbearing Julio. Fans of Ana Castillo and Erika Sanchez will be thrilled.”
—Publisher's Weekly Starred Review
Malas ensnares you with its antic energy, vibrant secrets, and the wickedly smart, self-assured Lulu at the center of it all. An enviably electric debut from Marcela Fuentes, who knows in her bones that the bad girls living in family cuentos, in telenovelas, and in town gossip are also the ones that glow with the brightest fire inside.”
Manuel Muñoz, author of The Consequences

“Fuentes builds a complex but loving portrait of a community shaken by loss but shaped by fortitude, with two strong-minded women at its heart.”
—Star Tribune

“Fuentes’ stunning debut shows us the sweeping mythic stature of the past alongside and running beneath the tactile and urgent present. Her gifts with storytelling and character propel us naturally from time to time in this gripping narrative of grief and release.” 
—Aimee Bender, New York Times bestselling author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and The Butterfuly Lampshade

“While the sections of the novel set in the ’90s are the liveliest, full of the complicated details of being a teenager pulled by tradition and pop culture, romance and independence, the briefer sections set in the ’50s provide a sense of context and of the differences and similarities between the two young women as Fuentes cunningly reveals the unexpected ties that bind them.
A vibrant portrait of two strong women and their mixed feelings about home.” 
—Kirkus Starred Review

“Malas is a marvel. At once epic and intimate, is packed with a cast of unforgettable characters - teenage members of a punk band, frustrated fathers trying to outrun a curse, women whose friendship transcends time and circumstance - all desperate to be seen. And Marcela Fuentes lets us see these characters in all their facets and flaws as we laugh, cry, and live alongside them.”
Vanessa Chan, author of The Storm We Made

“The next great Texas literary epic…Amid a bumper crop of generation-spanning novels from Texas Latinas, Marcela Fuentes’s unflinching Malas stands out…Lulu, Pilar, and Julio learn many of the facts, but no matter how close any of us are to our families, we’ll never really know what it was like to endure our forebears’ lives. We can record long testimonials and stay up all night trading stories, but that takes us only so far. Our ancestors’ deepest hopes and fears are lost in the space between the lived experience and the tale. That’s what novels are for; that’s what Malas does.”
Texas Monthly

Malas gorgeously captures both the vibrancy and the cost of becoming the kind of woman who sets her own path, creates her own rituals, and mourns her own losses. Marcela Fuentes writes with a visceral precision about family, grief, and what it means to move through the world holding on to both your independence and your ties to community. This is a dazzling, heartbreaking, and triumphant debut.”
—Danielle Evans, author of The Office of Historical Corrections and Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593655788
ISBN-10: 0593655788
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: June 4th, 2024
Pages: 384
Language: English