Kathleen Alcalá

Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist

Kathleen's first book, Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist, received the King County Publication Award in 1992. It was published by Calyx Books of Corvallis, Oregon. Two of the stories in this collection are included in the Norton's Anthology of Latino Literature.

CALYX Books Announces Ebook Release of Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist

August 2012: Corvallis, OR – Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist includes fourteen magical stories, set in the Southwest and Mexico, that move vividly between realism and imagination. According to author Rudolfo Anaya, Ms. Alcalá “captures the essence of magical realism in her work.” Many of the stories concern the generation of women who lived through the Mexican revolution. Those who survived found themselves in a world dominated by North America but with a nineteenth-century Spanish social structure and a pre-Columbian landscape and sensibility. The stories deal with the inner lives of these women and men, the world of dream and imagination and shifting reality.

Simultaneously, CALYX Books will release selected short stories from the collection to be available for individual download and classroom use including: “The Transforming Eye,” “Sweetheart,” “Gypsy Lover,” “Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist,” and “Amalia.”

Each story unfolds with humor and simplicity and perfect naturalness into something original and totally unpredictable. Not one tale is like another, yet all together they form a beautiful whole, a world where one would like to stay forever. – Ursula K. Le Guin

By making the unlikely seem commonplace, Ms. Alcalá draws on the strong tradition of magic realism in Latin American literature. – New York Times Book Review

An intensely imaginative, often compelling debut. – Kirkus Reviews

Exudes a seemingly effortless charm, piquing the palate with a modicum of Latin-style spice. – Publisher’s Weekly

Selected Works

Creative nonfiction, memoir, environmental sustainability.
Combining memoir, historical records, and a blueprint for sustainability, The Deepest Roots shows us how an island population can mature into responsible food stewards and reminds us that innovation, adaptation, diversity, and common sense will help us make wise decisions about our future. And along the way, we learn how food is intertwined with our present but offers a path to a better understanding of the future.
Creative Nonfiction
Essays on Family and Writing

The Desert Remembers My Name makes an important contribution to discussions of ethnicity, identity, and the literature of place.”
Bloomsbury Review
"...a mesmerizing tale... the author explores the fascinating confusions and contradictions plaguing a culture precariously poised between tradition and modernization."
"She never forgot the power of storytelling as testimony."
The Utne Reader
"Kathleen Alcalá's Spirits of the Ordinary is an enthralling book..."
–Paul Yamazaki, City Lights Books

"This book entered my dreams."
–Alberto Rios
Short Fiction
"Thoroughly satisfying."
The New York Times Book Review

"By turns touching, entertaining, and surprising, and uniquely her own."
Publishers Weekly

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