Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine tells the story of a woman uncovering multigenerational family history and her journey to finding
herself. Major themes of this novel include family, love and racism, specifically the threat of the Ku Klux Klan. Set in the 1930s, we follow the main character Luz Lopez, a laundress who was taught to read tea leaves by her mother. Her brother Diego, a factory worker by day and a snake charmer by night, flees Denver from a violent white mob. This leaves Luz to find a better occupation to support herself and navigate living in a city alone. It also becomes a time where Luz be-gins to experience visions of her ancestors. These discoveries from her ancestors, combined with their connection to Luz’s personal life events, serve to guide her. They bring her clarity over what she wants and what she hopes to accomplish. This book is especially powerful, because it brings to light the hostility faced by Indigenous people and the impact of hatred in a community.
The beautiful descriptive language throughout the story allows the reader to picture every landscape and scenario as if watching a movie. Characters are portrayed as resilient, hopeful and vibrant. The introductory blurb contains a quote that says, “There is one generation, a seer who keeps the stories.” This was a fitting and memorable description to set up the novel.
Author Kali Fajardo-Anstine is a Colorado native. Her writing has appeared in newspapers like The New York Times. Woman of Light is the first novel written by Fajardo-Anstine following her acclaimed short story collection Sabrina & Corina, also set in Colorado. The dedication to the people of Denver featured in the debut novel is a special bonus. Woman of Light is perfect for reading in one sitting and offers insight into the American West.
Originally published in Winter + Spring 2022-23 issue.