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The Realm of Hungry Spirits Paperback – May 2, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (May 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446549630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446549639
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,382,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"López imagines believable characters and observes their world with literary insight. An entertaining appreciation of one woman's journey, sometimes ribald and funny, sometimes ironic and self-deprecating."—Kirkus Reviews

"This story of a faith-propelled, irrepressible Chicana bursts with life as it comes to an

eminently satisfying, all-encompassing conclusion. López, author of The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters (2008),

shows good storytelling skills once again."—Booklist

"Through snappy dialogue and rich detail, López (The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters) creates characters who are lovable even at their most irritating, and the perpetually ridiculous demands of Marina's 'hungry spirits' provide moments of hilarious dark comedy."—Publishers Weekly

"Although it is a humorous, often raucous story of the witty and wise Marina's struggle to find inner peace among the motley crew of relatives, friends, antagonists, and former and potential lovers that surround her, The Realm of Hungry Spirits is, first and foremost, a spiritual journey; one that leads a good soul towards a life-changing discovery . The Dalai's Lama's words, both simple and profound, contain the message that Marina finally 'gets,' once she gives herself over completely to the impulse that defines her: generosity towards others."—Judith Ortiz Cofer

"A masterful novel that explores, with a humorous touch, the powers of femininity and a young woman's struggle to become spiritually aware in a mad world. Lorraine Lopez, a laureate novelist and a PEN/ Faulkner Award Finalist, proves her brilliance once more."—Teresa Dovalpage author of A Girl like Che Guevara

This warm comic novel is trademark Lorraine López: gritty, true, hilarious, wise, moving--all the good things. Her indomitable, grace-seeking, wise-cracking heroine Marina is an everywoman pushed by love and circumstance to make the choice we all face: people, or peace?—Joy Castro, author of The Truth Book

"The Realm of Hungry Spirits is a marvelous novel. In it, Lorraine Lopez brilliantly orchestrates a cast of complicated and audacious characters. My new literary heroine, Marina Lucero, gamely tackles this riveting spiritual puzzle: How can our tormentors possibly be our teachers? Readers will hold their breath as they turn the pages to discover the answer. With her deft and pitch-perfect prose, Lopez has created a wickedly funny and warmly empathetic tale of life in contemporary America. The Realm of Hungry Spirits is the work of one of our finest literary artists."—Lynn Pruett, author Ruby River

"López, quien se dio a conocer con su novela "The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters", maneja las convenciones de la literatura popular para mujeres a la perfección."

López, who came to fame with her novel The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters, manages the conventions of popular fiction for women to perfection.(EFE)

"Enchanting debut."

"Engaging...Lopez establishes herself as an excellent storyteller with this multilayered tale of sisterhood, growing up, self-awareness and honoring history."—Publishers Weekly on THE GIFTED GABALDÓN SISTERS

"Reminiscent of the novels of Cristina Garcia and Sandra Cisneros, Lopez's book presents a lively, loving Latino family."—Library Journal on THE GIFTED GABALDÓN SISTERS

"The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters is about secrets and lies, dramas and scandals, big losses and deep resentments-the very stuff that makes life worth living. It's been a long time since I've encountered such a rambunctious and motley bunch of characters. And in López's hands, through her finely calibrated prose, they lift off the page with dignity and soul, and she makes you root and ache for each of them until the very end."—Alex Espinoza, author of STILL WATER SAINTS on THE GIFTED GABALDÓN SISTERS

"Lorraine López didn't set out to write a book that challenged narrow perceptions of Latino culture, but that's just what she has done with her richly imagined new novel."—The Tennessean on THE GIFTED GABALDÓN SISTERS

"The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters is a laugh-aloud funny and lay-your-head-down-and-cry lyrical tour of melded cultures and traditions, of blended tongues, and the sites of the inevitable clashes between worlds; it is a window into the strange conjunctions that exist as parallel universes in today's multicultural America. The result is wisdom and delight, delight and wisdom."—Judith Ortiz Cofer author of Call Me Maria on THE GIFTED GABALDÓN SISTERS

About the Author

Lorraine López is a Professor of English in the Creative Writing Program at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She won the 2003 Independent Publishers Book Award for Multicultural Fiction, awarded by the Jenkins Group, for Soy la Avon Lady and other Stories. The same work also won the 2003 Latino Book Award for Short Stories, awarded by the Latino Literary Hall of Fame. In 2001, López was awarded the Inaugural Miguel Marmol Prize for Fiction, selected by Sandra Cisneros and awarded by Curbstone Press, for a first book-length work of fiction of a Latino writer.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on April 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
Growing up in a devout fundamentalist household, thirtyish schoolteacher Marina Lucero has gone the complete opposite of her dogmatic parents as she has grave doubts about organized religion. Instead she turns to the Dalai Lama for spiritual enlightenment.

However, heeding to the Dalai's code to care for the downtrodden proves difficult. The dependents at school, in the neighborhood and her family take their toll on her mental state. Her former boyfriend shows chutzpah when he arrives with his list after dumping her on Valentine's Day. Her sister makes demands of her though offers nothing in return except more demands. Rudy's best friend, a Santeria priest, threatens to give her the evil eye if she fails to fill his order. As her life implodes and tragedies occur, Marina wonders what she did to deserve this; her self-deprecating answer is being the sucker Good Samaritan; so she knows it is time for no more Ms. nice guy as she needs to cleanse her soul.

This is an amusing dark lampooning of the Good Samaritan who tries to be there for everyone else, but has no time to take care of herself. This work is satirical as the support cast keeps making demands on the protagonist who fails to say no even to those who hurt or threaten her. Although the story line is too long as the demand and supply becomes too frequent, fans will enjoy this dark jocular satire as readers conclude that even the Dalai Lama would retire rather than deal with her demanding crowd.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Paperback
The Realm of Hungry Spirits (Grand Central, 2011) is a modern story of a young woman's path toward enlightenment. In this well-written, funny novel by Lorraine López, PEN Faulkner Award finalist and author of The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters, characters leap off the page and take a life of their own.
Kindhearted Marina offers shelter and food to her sister's former boyfriend, a "tough-loved" nephew and a little dog she names Feo. An elementary school teacher in a spiritual quest, she is determined to put into practice the Dalai Lama's words and follow the example of Mahatma Gandhi. But this becomes a challenging task. Her lazy guests and a former lover who insists on pushing a Santeria ceremony on her test Marina's patience beyond the limits of sainthood and she often ends up unleashing her sharp tongue instead of practicing restrain. But it is difficult to blame her!
In a lighthearted tone, the novel deals with serious issues like the meaning of suffering, religion vs. spirituality and the discovery of family secrets... The author skillfully weaves poignant scenes with laugh-until-your-belly-hurts moments. Marina's monologues illuminate not only hers but other character's mindsets. A Santeria babalawo, a grieving mother and the kids in Marina's classroom make up a motley, but compelling crew.
All the characters, from leopard print-wearing Rosaura to the Buddhist-Nudist substitute teacher seem as real as your next-door neighbors. The narrative flows seamlessly toward a clean cut ending, un final super limpio though no Santeria-style limpieza is performed. Will there be a second part, a sequel about Marina's new adventures on the realm of satisfied and happy beings? I certainly hope so. Ojalá que sí!
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