Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Fifth Sun - Mary Helen Lagasse

I mentioned a few months ago (March 11) that The Fifth Sun by Mary Helen Lagasse won the 2004 Patricia and Rudolfo Anaya Premio Atzlán. I had included her book in a post about some of the best books of 2004. She recently sent a message that is in the archives of this blog, but I wanted to make sure that her information got heard. Mary Helen says that the subject of her lecture when she received the Premio Atzlán was Breaking Barrio Images: A Voice From The Deep South. She commented that "Señor Anaya thought this a very good topic since, as he said, there are no other prize-winning Chicana writers from the Deep South--certainly not from New Orleans!" Her publisher, Curbstone Press, is a small house, publicity is scarce and Mary Helen worries that her book will fall between the cracks. To date The Fifth Sun has won three literary awards: The Miguel Marmol Latina First Fiction Award; the Rudolfo & Patricia Anaya Premio Atzlán for Best Debut Novel Written in English by a Latina, and most recently at the Book Expo, the Independent Publishers 2005 IPPY Award for Best Multicultural Fiction. Moreover, the book was cited as a Best Debut Novel of 2004 by the New Orleans Times Picayune (12/04), and has garnered a number of excellent reviews. The Fifth Sun appears destined to become a classic Chicano novel and Mary Helen Lagasse definitely a writer to watch. Now, if we can just help out the sales.

The Fifth Sun is the story of Mercedes, a young Mexican woman who leaves her village to work as a housemaid in New Orleans. This novel takes her through her adventures in New Orleans, her marriage, her struggle to raise her children, her deportation, and her attempt to re-cross the river and be reunited with her children. And the novel takes place during the Roaring Twenties and the Depression, unique time periods for stories about Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.