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Desert Blood: The Juarez Murders Hardcover – March 31, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 346 pages
  • Publisher: Arte Publico Pr (March 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558854460
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558854468
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #889,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In a genre populated with strong women, Gaspar de Alba's Ivon Villa stands out as unforgettable. A visiting professor at an L.A. college, Ivon is smart, beautiful, and gay. She and her partner, Brigit, decide to adopt a baby from Mexico, and Ivon travels to her native El Paso to see the child. On the plane, she reads an article about the murdered bodies of more than 100 women found in the desert outside Juarez. The crime wave hits home when the mother of the baby she was to adopt becomes one of the victims. Then Ivon's little sister, Irene, goes missing after an evening in Juarez. With the help of her cousin and a nervous priest, Ivon desperately searches for Irene while dealing with their accusatory mother and corrupt border patrol officers. Gaspar de Alba not only crafts a suspenseful plot but tackles prejudice in many of its ugly forms: against gays, against Hispanics, against the poor. An in-your-face, no-holds-barred story full of brutality, graphic violence, and ultimately, redemption. Jenny McLarin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From the Inside Flap

Advance praise for Desert Blood: The Juárez Murders: "Gaspar de Alba brings a scholar’s mind, a fine writer’s sensitivity, and the open heart of her heritage. The result is a novel that takes your breath away, page after page, and grabs your heart."
—James Crumley, author of The Last Good Kiss

"Gripping, heart-wrenching, set against the tough, lacerating reality of border-town Ciudad Juarez…Desert Blood is a mystery unlike any other…Villa is the perfect match for the border itself. Brava!"
—Lucha Corpi, author of The Gloria Damasco Series

". . .a page-turner of frightening speed…Let me say something loud and clear: Desert Blood: The Juárez Murders deserves the widest readership possible. In fact, copies of the novel should be delivered to the El Paso Police Department, La Migra, and the FBI with a post-it saying: 'mandatory reading."
—Helena María Viramontes, author of Under the Feet of Jesus


More About the Author

Professor Alicia Gaspar de Alba is a celebrated writer and scholar. She took her Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of New Mexico in 1994. A founding faculty member and former chair of the UCLA César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies (2007-2010), her work explores gender and sexuality, Chicana/o art, popular culture, and border studies. Known to her students as La Profe, she teaches courses on border consciousness, bilingual creative writing, Chicana lesbian literature, and barrio popular culture.

With novels that have been translated into Spanish, German and Italian, Gaspar de Alba has published numerous books, articles, short stories, and poetry. Her 2011 book, Our Lady of Controversy: Alma López's "Irreverent Apparition," co-edited with Alma López herself, serves as a Chicana feminist response to the religious opposition against Lopez's digital collage, "Our Lady," and offers diverse perspectives on art, censorship, first-amendment rights, the alignment of Church and State, and Chicano nationalism. Her 2010 anthology (co-edited with her graduate student, Georgina Guzmán) Making a Killing: Femicide, Free Trade, and La Frontera and her 2005 mystery novel, Desert Blood: The Juárez Murders examine the unresolved murders of over five hundred poor Mexican women and girls that have taken place on the border between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico since 1993.

In 2001, Gaspar de Alba won First Place in Historical Fiction in the Latino Literary Hall of Fame for her debut historical novel Sor Juana's Second Dream (1999), a Chicana lesbian interpretation of the life of Latin America's "tenth muse," the 17th-century nun/poet/scholar Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Desert Blood (2005) was awarded both a Lambda Literary Foundation Award for Best Lesbian Mystery and a Latino Book Award for Best Mystery in English. Mystery of Survival, her short story collection, was awarded the 1994 Premio Aztlán, a Rudolfo Anaya-endowed literary award for a first book of fiction by an emerging Chicana/o writer. Her doctoral dissertation "Mi Casa [No] Es Su Casa: The Cultural Politics of the Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation Exhibit" won the 1994 Ralph Henry Gabriel American Studies Association Award for Best Dissertation, and is the basis for her 1998 book, Chicano Art Inside/Outside the Master's House. She also received a 1993 Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship and a 1992 Chicana Dissertation Fellowship from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 1999, she was awarded a Rockefeller Fellowship for Latino/a Cultural Study at the Smithsonian. In 2008, she was awarded the UCLA Gold Shield Faculty Award for Academic Excellence.

Along with her teaching and scholarly work, Gaspar de Alba has also organized three important conferences at UCLA. As part of the 2010 quinceañera celebration of the UCLA César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies, Gaspar de Alba organized an all-day Valentine's symposium, "Sex y Corazón: Queer and Feminist Theory at the Vanguard of the New Chicana/o Studies," which examined how Chicana/o queer and feminist scholars have changed Chicana/o Studies over the past 15 years. In 2003, she organized "The Maquiladora Murders, Or, Who Is Killing the Women of Juárez?" a three-day international conference about the epidemic of femicides that have been occurring on the U.S.-Mexico border since 1993, and in 2001 she organized "Otro Corazón: Queering the Art of Aztlán," a Valentine's day tribute to the creative spirit of queer Chicana/o visual artist, performance artists, writers, and critics.

Gaspar de Alba holds joint appointments in the departments of English and Women's Studies, and is a longstanding member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies Faculty Advisory Committee. From 2002-2004, she served as Associate Director of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center and co-editor of Aztlán: A Chicano Studies Journal, and from 2000-2001, she was appointed Interim Director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Studies Program. Before joining the faculty at UCLA, she worked as a Braille transcriber at the National Braille Press in Massachusetts and taught English Composition and ESL courses at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

A native of the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez border, Gaspar de Alba now resides in Los Angeles, California with her wife, digital artist and muralist Alma López, and their two cats.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By toni on July 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A HUGE fan of Gaspar de Alba's earlier historical fiction, and an ardent admirer of her writing style, I was excited to find that she'd penned a new novel! -- yet, even so, for some inexplicably incomprehensible reason (I wasn't in the mood for gory violence? Mysteries are not my genre of choice?), I picked this book up several times - only to put it back down, before -- finally giving in to a closer look -- and, that was all it took!! Once I got through the first few pages, I couldn't put it down! It's true that the sometimes graphic images crafted by the carefully chosen words of Gaspar de Alba's skilled writing are often hard to stomache (that's how good she is!) -- but then - so, too, must be the very real murders and mutilations that her book fictionalizes. I commend Gaspar de Alba for her effort/s at spreading the word/s .... and .... give her "mil gracias" for the very affable creation of her "tough yet tender," "gender-bending," mapi-to-be, Yvonne-turned-Ivon. ; )
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn Roberts on December 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I initially was going to give this book three stars, but in all fairness, I was hooked and couldn't put it down.

The only problem I had with this book was the way it was written. I believe the author had a message to say, theories to give, and details to offer. She then constructed a story AROUND her facts, hoping they'd fit perfectly. The story is too coincidental and unlikely in some areas. The constant Spanish dialogue was sometimes translated in same sentence, which bugged me some. She would of been better off using footnotes, in my opinion.

The writing was a bit too simple for me, but I can understand that maybe she wanted to reacher a wider audience.

The theories fascinated me though. That was what kept me turning the pages. I usually read a book in a few days, but I stayed up very late to finish this one. And I also felt satisfied when I got to the ending. Not the actual story's ending, but the way the author summed everything up in theory.

This fictional book was a vehicle to spread a horrible reality, and I am grateful. ---- Carolyn, 35, Native El Pasoan.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sue Ann Jaffarian on June 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book made the hair on my neck stand straight up! But I couldn't stop reading. The fact that it is fiction centered around real events made it even more horrifying and compelling. But even if the Juarez murders had not and were not taking place, this is still an incredible book. It's well written, the story riveting, and the characters (very important to me) are drawn with great reality. The protagonist, Ivon Villa, is a strong but flawed gay woman, fiercely loyal to her family in spite of her mother's hatefulness, and her iron will and determination make her a perfect vehicle for the non-fictional message of this book. BRAVO ALICIA!
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12 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Hazel on July 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book read like a cheezy, mystery version of Rubyfruit Jungle--set on the border, Chicana style. It is overflowing with stereotype and is in need of serious editing. Despite its length, I read it in 2 days (for me not always a good sign) and was slightly shocked at how disappointed I felt because I have been a fan of Gaspar de Alba's thoughtful, theoretical work. I wonder what, if anything, this perfectly-resolved tale will do to shed light on the murdered women of Juarez, other than to detail the horror of the killings, which her readers are likely to already know.
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