From Publishers Weekly
Poet Baca's blistering novel takes to task the treatment of Mexican migrant workers in the US. When a young Mexican couple, Casimiro and Nopal, cross the border in 1984, their new life begins promisingly: they find work on a Texas farm and build a stable home for their two sons, Lorenzo and Vito. But before the boys reach adulthood, Nopal is murdered and her killer escapes. The family struggles to go on, with Lorenzo eventually taking over his father's farm duties and settling into domestic bliss with Carmen, a college student studying migrant workers. Vito's restless spirit leads him to fight in amateur boxing matches and to everyone's surprise, he shows a tantalizing level of talent and considers a serious fighting career. But even as the brothers find their own measures of success, they are haunted by the injustice of Nopal's murder. Interspersed with Lorenzo and Vito's lives are glimpses of Casimiro's youth and even Nopal's thoughts from the world beyond. A general sense of social and political unrest permeates the story, often to the point of distraction. But the sheer passion that drives Baca's novel is undeniable. (Oct.)
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A well-written and at times lyrical saga told with understanding and compassion.”Library Journal
Jimmy Santiago Baca’s poems read like novels, and his novels read like poems. . . . Baca fills his prose with evocative, naturalistic details, [and] his poetry’s beating heart . . . weaves stories of Chicano loss and redemption, often through a reconnection to Earth’s natural elements. . . . Baca’s tangible earthiness seeps through [A Glass of Water] . . . but his bucolic prose is anything but lulling; as the story builds to a violent resolution, so do the political undercurrents. But ultimately, it’s transcendent performanceCarmen’s song and Vito’s populist pugilism, not to mention Baca’s own transformation through literaturethat offers salvation.”The Austin Chronicle
[With A Glass of Water] Baca manages to put a face on desperation. He decries the exploitation of migrant farm workers in the United States . . . [and] derogates not only an exploitive American economic system, but also Mexican drug lords driving the poor off their land, who become homeless or victims of violence. . . . [But] a field worker’s life isn’t all toil and gloom as reflected in the lives of the characters. There’s also passion, joy, love of family, adventure, love, longing, and accomplishment. The imagery is striking, the prose lyrical.”The Albuquerque Journal
[A] blistering novel . . . The sheer passion that drives Baca’s [work] is undeniable.”Publishers Weekly
[With] image-rich writing . . . A Glass of Water adds another strong voice to the growing body of literature on immigrants and migrant farm workers. . . . Baca should be commended for tackling injustice in his fiction.”High Country News
Impressive . . . Fierce and uncompromising, but also beautiful and wise, A Glass of Water might be [Baca’s] most accessible work yet. . . . Baca’s concerns are universal: family, loyalty, the dignity of hard work, and, above all, love.”Pasatiempo