Serafina's Stories

Overview

New Mexico's master storyteller creates a southwestern version of the Arabian Nights in this fable set in seventeenth-century Santa Fe. In January 1680 a dozen Pueblo Indians are charged with conspiring to incite a revolution against the colonial government. When the prisoners are brought before the Governor, one of them is revealed as a young woman. Educated by the friars in her pueblo's mission church, Serafina speaks beautiful Spanish and surprises the Governor with her ...
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Overview

New Mexico's master storyteller creates a southwestern version of the Arabian Nights in this fable set in seventeenth-century Santa Fe. In January 1680 a dozen Pueblo Indians are charged with conspiring to incite a revolution against the colonial government. When the prisoners are brought before the Governor, one of them is revealed as a young woman. Educated by the friars in her pueblo's mission church, Serafina speaks beautiful Spanish and surprises the Governor with her fearlessness and intelligence.

The two strike a bargain. She will entertain the Governor by telling him a story. If he likes her story, he will free one of the prisoners. Like Scheherezade, who prevented her royal husband from killing her by telling him stories, Serafina keeps the Governor so entertained with her versions of Nuevo Mexicano cuentos that he spares the lives of all her fellow prisoners.

Some of the stories Serafina tells will have a familiar ring to them, for they came from Europe and were New Mexicanized by the Spanish colonists. Some have Pueblo Indian plots and characters—and it is this blending of the two cultures that is Anaya's true subject.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Anaya, well known for his classic Bless Me, Ultima, presents a New Mexican version of the story of Scheherazade and The Arabian Nights. Set in 17th-century Santa Fe, this loosely woven story centers on the governor, who must pass judgment on a group of Pueblo Indians charged with conspiring against the government. Serafina, one of the Indians, persuades him to release a prisoner for every story she tells him, provided that she entertains him. Thus, Anaya presents a dozen New Mexican folktales through Serafina's storytelling. Many of the stories are familiar, although the setting is different. Though Anaya is sometimes preachy as he relates the governor's conflicted feelings about the treatment of the Indians, the folktales themselves are interesting and draw one in. Like the governor, the reader looks forward to the next night and cares about Serafina's fate. Recommended for public and academic libraries, especially those with an interest in Southwestern literature.-Christina Mart nez, Univ. of Colorado Lib. at Colorado Springs Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-In 1680, 15-year-old Serafina is captured along with 11 other Pueblo Indians who are accused of plotting against the Spaniards governing New Mexico. She speaks fluent Spanish and is also a storyteller, and a bargain is struck with the governor: in return for telling the lonely widower a story, one of the prisoners will be released. Each evening Serafina delights him with a tale; next morning he questions and releases a prisoner. Most stories are familiar to him, like "Cinderella" retold as "Miranda's Gift." Others are Indian. But the governor's enemies are aghast at his friendship with Serafina, believing that the natives should be punished harshly, not freed. At last it is Serafina's turn to be tried. If the governor releases her, an agent of the Inquisition will take her away to be tried for heresy, so he decrees that she must remain in his custody for the present, her "prison" a room behind his kitchen. The short, action-packed folktales are perfect for reluctant readers and are linked by the story of the struggle between the Pueblos, determined to preserve their religion and culture, and the settlers, determined to suppress and convert them.-Molly Connally, Chantilly Regional Library, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826335692
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
  • Publication date: 7/30/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.96 (w) x 8.36 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

Rudolfo Anaya, widely acclaimed as one of the founders of modern Chicano literature, is professor emeritus of English at the University of New Mexico. He is best known for the classic Bless Me Ultima.

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