“Fresh, magical, beautiful, evocative” says Lisa See, about this wonderful first novel by Alex Espinoza. Still Water Saints chronicles a momentous year in the life of Agua Mansa, a largely Latino town beyond the fringes of Los Angeles and home to the Botánica Oshún, where people come seeking charms, herbs, and candles. Above all, they seek the guidance of Perla Portillo, the shop’s owner. Perla has served the community for years, arming her clients with the tools to overcome all manner of crises, large and small. There is Juan, a man coming to terms with the death of his father; Nancy, a recently married schoolteacher; Shawn, an addict looking for peace in his chaotic life; and Rosa, a teenager trying to lose weight and find herself. But when a customer with a troubled and mysterious past arrives, Perla struggles to help and must confront both her unfulfilled hopes and doubts about her place in a rapidly changing world.
Imaginative, inspiring, lyrical, and beautifully written, Still Water Saints evokes the unpredictability of life and the resilience of the spirit through the journeys of the people of Agua Mansa, and especially of the one woman at the center of it all. Theirs are stories of faith and betrayal, love and loss, the bonds of family and community, and the constancy of change.
Alex Espinoza was born in Tijuana, Mexico and raised in the city of La Puente, a suburb of Los Angeles. He received his BA in Creative Writing from the University of California, Riverside in 2000 and went on to earn his MFA in Writing from the University of California, Irvine in 2004. He served as editor of UCI’s literary journal, Faultline, and was the recipient of two research grants from the International Center for Writing and Translation. He has worked as a used appliance salesman, a cashier and egg candler on a chicken ranch, and a retail manager. His first novel, Still Water Saints (Random House, 2007) which was released simultaneously in Spanish, has been named a Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writer” selection for spring, 2007. His essays have appeared in Salon and the New York Times. Alex Espinoza has been chosen by City of Los Angeles’s Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts to participate as part of the official delegation of “LA’s most notable writers” at the 23rd Annual Guadalajara International Book Fair (Féria Internacional del Libro).