The Desert Remembers My Name

Kathleen Alcalá’s work takes readers to “a world where one would like to stay forever” (Ursula K. LeGuin). Her words “convincingly move the reader from one reality to the other” (Rudolfo Anaya) and attest to “the power of storytelling as testimony” (The Utne Reader). And now, in her first nonfiction collection The Desert Remembers My Name, Alcalá demonstrates that reflecting upon and sharing one’s own history is as intellectually and spiritually rewarding as using fiction to chronicle the past.

In this lyrical collection of personal essays, esteemed Chicana writer Kathleen Alcalá explores the many meanings of “family.” Having unearthed her family’s history and secrets in three award-winning novels, Alcalá now presents a memoir that reflects upon that past. In it, she ultimately uncovers the forces that shaped her as writer and shows how the act of writing can free a person from cultural and personal restraints.

Although the essays are in many ways personal, their themes are also universal. When Alcalá examines her history, she is encouraging us to inspect our own families, too. When she investigates a family secret, she is supporting our own search for meaning. After reading these essays, we understand not only why Kathleen Alcalá is a writer but also why we appreciate her so much. She helps us to find ourselves.

"Alcalá displays an intellectual curiosity that has led her to think and write creatively about less personal matters. Her essay on the Opata peoples of Mexico is fascinating, and in another essay, she masterfully blends the harrowing experience of Andrea Yates, who drowned her five young children, with the mythic stories of Mexican folklore."
Publishers Weekly