The Desert Remembers My Name
On Family and Writing
Thus begins a lyrical and entirely absorbing collection of personal essays by esteemed Chicana writer and gifted storyteller Kathleen Alcalá. Loosely linked by an exploration of the many meanings of “family,” these essays move in a broad arc from the stories and experiences of those close to her to those whom she wonders about, like Andrea Yates, a mother who drowned her children. In the process of digging and sifting, she is frequently surprised by what she unearths. Her family, she discovers, were Jewish refugees from the Spanish Inquisition who took on the trappings of Catholicism in order to survive.
Although the essays are in many ways personal, they are also universal. When she examines her family 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. And when she writes that being separated from our indigenous culture is “a form of illiteracy,” we know exactly what she means.
After reading these essays, we find that we have discovered not only why Kathleen Alcalá is a writer but also why we appreciate her so much. She helps us to find ourselves.
"The Desert Remembers My Name is a collection made for true readers—those of us who love to wander among books, picking out tidbits here and there. There is so much to discover in this book. Turn off the computer and phone. Open the closet that is this book. Poke around. Hear these stories. They will reward you." —Lisa D. Chávez, author of In an Angry Season