Celebrate the release of Velorio with author Xavier Navarro Aquino in conversation with Claire Jimenez on Thursday, January 6 at 7 pm at Brookline Booksmith.

This event is free, but book purchases support our store and the author and include a signed bookplate! Register for the event here.

Set in the wake of Hurricane Maria, Xavier Navarro Aquino’s unforgettable debut novel follows a remarkable group of survivors searching for hope on an island torn apart by both natural disasters and human violence.

Camila is haunted by the death of her sister, Marisol, who was caught by a mudslide during the huracán. Unable to part with Marisol, Camila carries her through town, past the churchyard, and, eventually, to the supposed utopia of Memoria.

Urayoán, the idealistic, yet troubled cult leader of Memoria, has a vision for this new society, one that, in his eyes, is peaceful and democratic. The paradise he preaches lures in the young, including Bay fish, a boy on the cusp of manhood, and Morivivi, a woman whose outward toughness belies an inner tenderness for her friends. But as the different members of Memoria navigate Urayoán’s fiery rise, they will need to confront his violent authoritarian impulses to find a way to reclaim their home.

Es septiembre de 2017 y el huracán María acaba de arrasar con Puerto Rico. Camila se siente perturbada por la muerte de su hermana, Marisol. Todo empezó cuando le arrancó un pedacito, el meñique que sobresalía del fango, tras el deslizamiento de tierra que se la llevó. Incapaz de desprenderse de ella, Camila carga con su cuerpo hasta llegar al supuesto paraíso perdido llamado «Memoria».

Urayoán, el profeta soñador pero peligroso de Memoria, tiene planes para su nueva sociedad: aspira a un nuevo orden tras el abandono del Gobierno. El paraíso que predica seduce a jóvenes de toda la isla, entre ellos a Pescao, Moriviví y Banto. Todos ellos tendrán que navegar el ascenso entre llamas del tirano Urayoán y enfrentarse a sus impulsos macabros para poder reclamar su hogar, una isla estremecida tanto por el paso impetuoso de María como por la violencia humana.

Xavier Navarro Aquino was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Navarro Aquino is an assistant professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, where he teaches in the MFA program. His fiction has appeared in Tin House, Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, and Guernica. He has been awarded scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, a MacDowell Fellowship, and an ACLS Emerging Voices Fellowship at Dartmouth College.

Claire Jimenez is a Puerto Rican writer who grew up in Brooklyn and Staten Island, New York. She is the author of Staten Island Stories (Johns Hopkins University Press), which received an NYC Book Award from the New York Society Library and a finalist for the International Latino Book Awards. Her novel What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing in the Spring of 2023. With a team of other Puerto Rican writers and scholars from the archipelago and the diaspora, she co-founded The Puerto Rican Literature Project, a digital archive, in partnership with the U.S. Latino Digital Humanities Program at the University of Houston. Jiménez’s fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in Refinery 29, Remezcla, Afro-Hispanic Review, PANK, The Rumpus, el roommate, and Eater, among other publications.