Fiesta of Smokeby Suzan Still
Against a backdrop of rebellion and intrigue, love between Javier Carteña, commander of insurgent Mexican forces, and Calypso Searcy, an American novelist at the pinnacle of her career, sizzles with passion across a broad sweep of history. Encompassing time from the Conquest of the 1500s to the present, the story races across space as well, from the forests of… See more details below
Against a backdrop of rebellion and intrigue, love between Javier Carteña, commander of insurgent Mexican forces, and Calypso Searcy, an American novelist at the pinnacle of her career, sizzles with passion across a broad sweep of history. Encompassing time from the Conquest of the 1500s to the present, the story races across space as well, from the forests of Chiapas to the city of Paris. There, an international investigative reporter named Hill picks up the swiftly vanishing trail of Calypso’s disappearance, and unwittingly becomes involved in one of the great dramas of the twentieth century and one of the great love stories of any age.
Suzan Still’s Fiesta of Smoke is a literary tour de force that explores how long-suppressed and marginalized people are rising phoenix-like from the ashes of their sacrificial fires. The smoky wings of these transfigured beings are gallantly abroad in the pages of this book. Feminine energy especially is emerging as a force to be reckoned with in every aspect of global life. Fiesta of Smoke is an exquisitely written and powerfully rendered chronicle of divine feminine resurrection.
Alexander Stuart, author of The War Zone and Life On Mars
“As with the brush of a muralist, Suzan Still has captured 50 years of the history of Mexico in vivid color. This passionate, non-linear novel explores the lives of three very different people involved in decades of political upheaval, and sounds the depth of injustices done for centuries there. Gripping in its detail, and daring in its reach, Fiesta of Smoke is a moving portrayal of the disparate cultures and complexity of a turbulent, beautiful country.”
M. E. Hirsh, author of Kabul and Dreaming Back
“Break out the Margaritas, chips and salsa, Suzan Still’s new novel, Fiesta of Smoke, is reason to celebrate! The great mythical sweep of the book, its stunning descriptions of Chiapas, and the human dramas that unfold will waft you away as you read. The book embodies Still’s love of the country and her profound grasp of people, their strengths and foibles. Add some guacamole and settle back for a great read!”
Hope Werness, author of The Continuum Encyclopedias of Native Art and Animal Symbolism in Art
“Fiesta of Smoke chronicles the empowerment of women and indigenous peoples in Mexico. Powerful, poetic writing brings alive vivid characters who stride through one of the great dramas of the twentieth century. . . . The women of Fiesta of Smoke have known terrible hardship and loss, yet, through courage and a united front, they rise above these to prevail. Fiesta of Smoke honours love on many levels, not the least of which is the love of freedom.”
Gillian P. Herbert, author of Spare Scenes
“Suzan Still’s Fiesta of Smoke is a literary tour de force that explores how long-suppressed and marginalized people are rising phoenix-like from the ashes of their sacrificial fires. The smoky wings of these transfigured beings are gallantly abroad in the pages of this book. Feminine energy especially is emerging as a force to be reckoned with in every aspect of global life. Fiesta Of Smoke is an exquisitely written and powerfully rendered chronicle of divine feminine resurrection.”
Julie Loar, multiple award-winning author of Goddesses For Every Day
“Still’s writing smolders with volatility, authenticity, and intelligent femininity. Set in Mexico, Fiesta of Smoke skillfully captures with layered nuance the importance of women healers, of traditional medicinal methods, and sensitive portrayals of Mexico’s landscape and the dynamics shaping it today.”
Tammy Horn, author of Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation and Beeconomy: What Women and Bees teach us about Local Trade and Global Markets
“In Fiesta of Smoke, Suzan Still has composed an epic tale unlike anything I’ve ever read. While the overarching love story, which is entangled in Mexican history and politics, is deliciously compelling, Still’s brilliance shines when she drops her story back in time and place into a sequence of nesting tales, one inside another like Russian dolls. These beautifully crafted segments deposit the struggle of Mexicoand the lovers themselvesinto the context of a far-reaching historical conflict. Fiesta of Smoke is a book that moves, instructs, and enriches; it is at once intellectually challenging and sweetly vibrant.”
Patricia Harrelson, author of Between Two Women and The Right Sisters
“Novelist and storyteller, Suzan Still, delivers a love story that is an intense, fast-paced journey as she carries her readers through five decades of Mexico’s building revolutionary fervor. Her multilayered characterizations, poignant and explosive, keep her fans intrigued as the force of the story continues to build. Not since Gone with the Wind have readers been treated to such a star-crossed and passionate love as that between Javier Carteña and Calypso Searcy. Fans of Ms. Still will remain on the edge of their seats with the addictive power of Fiesta of Smoke.”
L. L. Nielsen, author of Lasso the Stars
“Fiesta of Smoke investigates the profound secrets of Mexican history and probes the mysteries of life with a keen and humanistic eye. The choreography of the three protagonists of Suzan Still’s second masterful work is an epic calligraphy: the brush is singing and the ink is dancing. Full of sudden rebounds and surprises, the rhythm of her writing explodes on the page. Like a samouraï, she enters the depth of wounds and love with a passionate elegance, not afraid to reveal the unknown, to interrogate and distill life’s essence.”
Sylvie Carnot, Château de La Rochepot, a Medieval Revival (Les Editions du Palais, Paris)
“Fiesta of Smoke defies words in its intensely gorgeous prose, riveting conflicts, illusive and yet mesmerizing visions and descriptions, passionate scenes of hate and love, misunderstandings, inspiration and so much more. This is a story that rather than being based on real life was based on a life that inspired a later Mexican revolutionary. STUNNING, MUST, MUST READ!!!”
Crystal Book Reviews
“Suzan Still does a wonderful job at writing a novel that just flows and draws the reader in. There’s plenty going on here, with characters that jump off the pages as the story is told
. I recommend this one to readers who enjoy diving into a good book and living within its pages for a while.”
“This book was a blast to read and I loved every minute of it.”
It’s All About Books
“Proved a literary adventure for me. I do not believe I have ever read anything quite like it and I mean that as a compliment.”
Read. Write. Repeat.
“A unique love story between two enchanting characters who draw you into their world fully
. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and I want to read more by this talented author.”
“A fascinating look at a period and a conflict I knew very little about. I would definitely recommend this novel to readers interested in this area of the world, or who just want an engrossing and well-written work of fiction.”
As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves
this book reads like an opera, truly”
“If you’re interested in Mexican history, the fight for independence, or even just a good love story, pick up Fiesta of Smoke.”
- Fiction Studio, The
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.30(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.60(d)
Meet the Author
Suzan Still lives in the foothills of Sierra Nevada mountains with her husband and an assortment of rescued fur children. She is the author of a debut novel, COMMUNE OF WOMEN.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Javier Cartena and Calypso Searcy – two loves that fuel passion for life and revolution in Mexico! As they describe it, “We hold one another as if arms were a bond that can never be broken. Until we are only a swirl of ash in this fiesta of smoke, still dancing.” But this love has a deeper, richer story that makes the reader he or she has entered a magical world covering a span of 50 years. It concerns the above-named two characters and an investigative journalist, Hill, who becomes enamored of Calypso in Paris, France earlier in the 20th century. After two brief but mesmerizing meetings, Hill knows he is in love but also senses that Calypso, a teacher and writer, is in very deep trouble. After he finds her home ransacked and destroyed by an unknown marauder, he sets out to find her and his journey takes him to Mexico. Hill, although a seasoned journalist who can sniff out the most secretive elements of a great journalistic story, finds himself totally unprepared for the scenarios he is about to undergo. He takes us through stories within stories, one about a wealthy financier who suffers, to the point of insanity, over what his very wealthy family has done to the indigenous people of Mexico. It is only now that he is dying that he decides to repent beyond the actual physical self-flagellation he practices for his crime. He wills a huge portion of his fortune to a servant, whose only job will be to see it goes to save the native Mexicans from the repression, oppression and terrible suffering they are experiencing from politicians, administrators, the local police and now the Mexican Army. This is the story of native men, women and children who have fled murder, rape, and other travesties to unite under Javier and his guerilla troops. They are starving physically but now are reviving mentally and emotionally under Javier’s guidance. Javier is no ignorant revolutionary; he has used his education to spend years uniting agricultural workers, truckers, and more community-minded natives, inspiring them to believe that hope is again possible for their deplorable situations. The magic of this story includes the tales of a Mexican female shaman and others who are all part of this struggle. The language is beautiful beyond description. Calypso is the life-giving woman whose love enables Javier to continue when plans go awry; her amulet she wears around her neck enables her to sense danger and know things no human could ordinarily no, clearly an object connecting her and therefore the Mexican people to God and the Virgin of Guadalupe who are always present. Fiesta of Smoke defies words in its intensely gorgeous prose, riveting conflicts, illusive and yet mesmerizing visions and descriptions, passionate scenes of hate and love, misunderstandings, inspiration and so much more. This is a story that rather than being based on real life was based on a life that inspired a later Mexican revolutionary. STUNNING, MUST, MUST READ!!!
Fiesta of Smoke is one of those novels that you just get lost in. This is historical fiction that both centers on Mexico and its political history, as well as a love story between two people that spans decades. It took me a few pages to get to know Hill, Calypso and Javier, because the story goes from present time to the past as we see things through the eyes of these characters. Calypso is a writer who fell in love with Javier Carteña while in her late teens. Javier winds up being a commander in the Mexican forces. Hill is a reporter who is out to find out what happened to Calypso. Author Suzan Still does a wonderful job at writing a novel that just flows and draws the reader in. There's plenty going on here, with characters that jump off the pages as the story is told. These characters are multi-faceted, they are flawed, they seem real. At first I didn't like Javier, then he grew on me as the story unfolded. I wanted to know more about Calypso and the interesting life she lead. The plot goes from Berkeley to Mexico City to Paris and back around again. The multi layered plot reveals stories within stories, like the story of Achille and Cristobal de Castellanos. Upon reading the afterword, I learned that it took the author nearly three decades to write her novel. Hill's research and love of the history of Mexico shine through in her work. I felt like I was there as Calypso is arrested for protesting and thrown in prison. I felt for her and what she went through. My heart raced as I read what she endured. I could visualize Calypso and Javier clearly as their love developed and their passion for politics ran deep. These two talked about a revolution, about bringing equality to the people. The love story here just added to the passion and excitement. I also loved how the start of the story, winds up wrapping up with the ending. It connects nicely. I can see this story playing out on the big screen, if done right. I found Fiesta of Smoke to be a well written novel full of passion and history, with a bit of mystery and romance added in. I recommend this one to readers who enjoy diving into a good book and living within its pages for a while. disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any type of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. While I receive free books from publishers and authors, such as this one, I am under no obligation to write a positive review. My review copy was courtesy of TLC Book Tours.