A Swallow Press Book
"In The Confessions of Señora Francesca Navarro and Other Stories, Natalie Petesch has once again lent her passionate heart and passionate prose to stories and characters that live with heartbreaking honesty and dignity. These people and the events of their lives remain with me long after I put aside the pages where I met them."
Lewis Nordan, author of Wolf Whistle and The Sharpshooter Blues
“Memory, of course, is sometimes like a bucking horse, sometimes a runaway one, and one must control the reins until finally it stops, snorting with exhausted relief,” writes Natalie L. M. Petesch in her haunting new collection, The Confessions of Señora Francesca Navarro and Other Stories.
Petesch immerses readers in the lives of people caught up in the 1936–39 Spanish Civil War, which left more than five hundred thousand dead. She captures the hand-to-mouth existence on the streets of Madrid of two war orphans; an old soldier’s memories of a fallen militiawoman; the dilemma of Franco’s laundress as she seeks to duplicate a stolen religious icon she finds in his home; and a man’s struggle to find his bride among thousands of Republican refugees waiting for ships to evacuate them before Franco’s Fascists arrive to kill them.
In the title novella, an elderly woman describes to her granddaughter how the families of Franco’s officers fighting against Republican militiamen endured hunger, filth, and danger in an underground fortress. Petesch conveys the humiliating details of war through the sensibility of a cultured woman who recalls only too vividly latrines made of laundry tubs, the smell of unwashed humans, and the stench of death.
Brilliant in its imaginative power and heartbreaking in its access to the bottomless well of human tears, The Confessions of Señora Francesca Navarro and Other Stories is the work of a mature artist able to convey a particular world so vividly that we know these people as our own.
Natalie L. M. Petesch has published ten previous books of fiction, including the Swallow Press titles Duncan’s Colony, Flowering Mimosa, Justina of Andalusia, and The Immigrant Train. She lives in Pittsburgh. More info →
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This collection of stories is, like Petesch’s previous work, distinguished by its brilliant lyrical intensity and by characters who are stunningly alive. It is a powerful collection about impassioned cultural conflicts in present-day Spain and Mexico; it is also a book about ourselves—how we have failed to love the Earth and have squandered our resources.In the title story, it is Justina Olivia who breaks the moral law of her village in an unforgettable love story.
The title of Helen Papanikolas’ second collection of short stories, The Apple Falls from the Apple Tree, is taken from an old Greek proverb and speaks of the new generation’s struggle with the vestiges of Greek customs. Gone are the raw, overt emotions of the pioneers, their bold prejudices, and, especially, the haunting black fatalism of funerals. Yet their children retain much of their parents’ culture.
In her startling collection of short stories, Broken Lives and Other Stories, Anthonia C. Kalu creates a series of memorable characters who struggle to hold displaced but dynamic communities together in a country that is at war with itself.Broken Lives and Other Stories presents a portrait of the ordinary women, children, and men whose lives have been battered by war in their homeland.
Meredith Sue Willis’s Out of the Mountains is a collection of thirteen short stories set in contemporary Appalachia. Firmly grounded in place, the stories voyage out into the conflicting cultural identities that native Appalachians experience as they balance mainstream and mountain identities.Willis’s