“We slipped into this country like thieves, onto the land that once was ours.” With these words, spoken by an illegal Mexican day laborer, The Madonnas of Echo Park takes us into the unseen world of Los Angeles, following the men and women who cook the meals, clean the homes, and struggle to lose their ethnic identity in the pursuit of the American dream.
The Madonnas of Echo Park is a collection of short stories by Mexican American writer Brando Skyhorse. Although I seldom review short stories on this blog, I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to pay homage to such beautiful work of literature.
Having won both the PEN/Hemingway Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction, this novel really lives up to its hype. Each chapter is a different story told in first person in a beautifully crafted prose highlighting the intersections and clashes of American and Mexican culture.
In Los Angeles, you could rent an apartment, buy groceries, cash checks, and socialize, all in Spanish.
The Madonnas of Echo Park tells the stories of Mexican Americans in the constantly changing landscape of Los Angeles’s Echo Park neighborhood, a predominantly Latino community. This novel compiles a collection of interrelated stories that are heavily character-driven and that leave you contemplating the themes present in each story long after you finish reading the book.
“Faith is a luxury for those who are able to ignore what the rest of us must see every day. Pessimism, distrust, and irony are the holy trinity of my religion, irony in particular.”
“The time between your first major fight with your best friend until you make up is, for a teenage girl, about as long as it took for God to create the universe. . . . It’s excellent training for having a boyfriend.”