As we pass the mid-year mark, I can honestly say holy cow, I’ve read some great fiction. Something tells me come December, when I post my traditional year-end lists, it’s going to be very hard for me to limit my list of favorite English language works of fiction to just ten books. Harder still it will be deciding which book will earn my nod for overall best. But as things stand right now, one novel that could very well be on that year-end list is Jennifer Clement’s Prayers for the Stolen. This is yet another novel I found while rummaging through the International Authors shelf of my public library’s New Books section. I took a chance on Clement’s novel and was not disappointed.
Published in February of this year, Prayers for the Stolen is the story of Ladydi Garcia Martínez, who hails from a dirt poor village in the hills of Guerrero, Mexico. Life in her village is no picnic. Since almost all the men have fled to the United States in search of employment, it’s a village of women. It’s also a village where mothers hide their teen daughters or make them look ugly in order to keep them away from the drug gangs who periodically come raiding in search of young beauties to enslave and traffic. Impoverished and virtually forgotten by the central government in Mexico City, Laydi’s village is merely a spot on the map with human beings as its only export. It is these lack of opportunities that compel our heroine to seek greener pastures elsewhere, where she finds employment in Acapulco as a live-in maid for a wealthy family. Then, after a series of twists and turns things get interesting.
This is a somewhat slender yet nevertheless enjoyable novel. While reading it not once was I not entertained. Even though it’s a work of fiction, I thought the author did a darn good job touching on issues important to today’s Mexico such as poverty, corruption, gender inequality, emigration and the drug trade. Therefore, don’t be surprised if Prayers for the Stolen makes one of my year-end best of lists.