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Loteria: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 2, 2013
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“Zambrano effectively uses his string of short-story-like entries to make Luz a many-faceted diamond, hardened by life but still filled with light and beauty.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
“It’s a polished tome of prose unreeling the tale of plucky little Luz Maria Castillo in the game of chance called life… Loteria should delight and disturb any reader sensitive to the ways of children and how they think and, more importantly, how deeply they feel.” (Dallas Morning News)
“Loteria…captures, from a wide-eyed yet uncloying child’s perspective, the way in which life can feel a lot like a game of chance.” (Vogue, “Summer Reads”)
“Coming of Age through bingo—the weirder, magical Mexican version.” (New York)
“[Zambrano’s] debut novel…is a polished tome of prose unreeling the tale of plucky little Luz Maria Castillo in the game of chance called life.… We peer like voyeurs, artfully led by Zambrano’s pacing, dialogue and comically drawn characters.” (Houston Chronicle)
“LOTERIA is a taut, fraught, look at tragedy, its aftermath, and the stories we tell ourselves to survive. With suspense, dread, and always the possibility for redemption, we watch as Zambrano flips the cards of chance and fate.” (Justin Torres, author of We The Animals)
“LOTERIA… is constructed as a beautiful, gripping, and lyrical set of riddles (asked and solved) about life—and—death matters in one family. Like the novels of Cortazar, its form is intricate and beautiful. ” (Charles Baxter, author of Gryphon: New and Selected Stories and The Feast of Love)
“Mario Alberto Zambrano performs a lyrical and formal sleight of hand conjuring a spiritually profound and deeply moving story. Loteria is about everything that matters. . . . This gorgeous, one-of-a-kind debut, marks the emergence of a singular and powerful new literary voice.” (Amber Dermont, New York Times bestselling author of The Starboard Sea and Damage Control: Stories)
“In a bold, deeply-felt debut Mario Alberto Zambrano brings us tragedy made powerful … These are people who hold on to each other so hard it hurts. And this moving novel will hug you too, every bit as tight.” (Josh Weil, author of The New Valley)
“Take the architecture of Calvino’s The Castle of Crossed Destinies and marry it to the wide-open childhood receptivity of McCullers’s The Member of the Wedding, and you might achieve something like the effect of LOTERIA.” (Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Brief History of the Dead)
“If a book can be a spirit, this one is lithe, beautiful, and true. Mario Alberto Zambrano brings the heart of an artist immersed in movement and music to his prose and the result is dazzling.” (Ru Freeman, author of A Disobedient Girl)
“Loteria, charms on every page, despite heartache, love and loss. . . . The beauty and joy of her voice overcomes the hardships of her life, and by the end we have fallen in love. Bravo to a marvelous debut!” (Andrew Sean Greer, author of The Confessions of Max Tivoli)
“Mario Alberto Zambrano’s Loteria is a tender, beautifully written story. In every line, Zambrano finds the happy and sad music of childhood. It is an entrancing work.” (Lynne Tillman, author of Someday This Will Be Funny)
“Lotería is the card-based Mexican variant of bingo and, in the hands of Zambrano, it’s a deck stacked with narrative possibilities.… An intriguing debut and an elegiac, miniature entry in the literature of Latin American diaspora that will break your heart.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Zambrano’s stellar debut is proof positive that good things come in small packages.” (Booklist(starred review))
“His restraint from sentimentality, his mastery of well-made sentences and his rich imagination lift words off the page—like dancers in a ballet.” (National Post (Canada))
“The broken tale and imaginative first-person narration lend weight to this curious novel. It’s an impressive first step for an artist exploring a new medium.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“In this debut novel, a Mexican-American girl uses the game of Loteria to reveal her memories, which add up to a heartwenching tale of violence, love and a broken family.” (Los Angeles Times, “Summer Reading”)
“This is a smart and powerful tale, beautifully rendered by a sensitive artist.” (Shelf Awareness)
“An incredible first novel.” (Village Voice)
“This is a gripping, heartbreaking novel by a new writer who already understands the power of understatement and controlled revelation.” (El Paso Times)
“Loteria is… like stumbling onto the gut-wrenching journal of a preteen girl. It’s imaginative, mysterious, and sometimes too real.” (Daily Candy)
“…Loteria reaches a rare plane where it transcends its form and comes alive as a commentary on character, family and culture.” (Brooklyn Rail)
“Luz’s (and by extension Zambrano’s) refusal to give in to easy condemnations of her father’s actions, beautifully highlighted by genuinely difficult arguments between Luz and Estrella, is among this novel’s most risky and ultimately successful gambits.” (School Library Journal (starred review))
Top Customer Reviews
In her journal, Luz tells a series of stories about her life, memories of her past, each inspired by the picture on a Loteria card. Whether all of the stories are literally true is unclear; Luz reminds us that we each tell our own stories in our own ways. Some of the stories are cute but seemingly pointless (that's to be expected when random memories are triggered by pictures) while others bring Luz' life into sharper focus. To an extent, her story is typical of an immigrant family transplanted from Mexico to the United States, struggling to assimilate and coping with discrimination. On a more personal level, Luz describes parents whose domestic life transitioned from romance to violence, a father whose rough discipline leaves its mark on both of his daughters and a mother who (in Luz' view) abandoned them. Mario Zombrano makes it possible to understand and even empathize with Luz' father while, in the same moment, condemning his abusive behavior.
It's also easy to understand Luz, a girl who doesn't understand herself. She questions her role in her family as well as her identity: Is she Mexican or American? Is she good or bad?Read more ›
She is using a deck of Loteria cards, a Mexican game similar to bingo, to write her family's story. Each card gives the reader a little bit more information about Luz's situation and the tragic incidents that have brought her to her current circumstances. We learn about the domestic violence that occurred with regularity in Luz's home, how her hand was broken by her father in response to his finding out that Luz was sexually abused, how Luz's mother and father often fought physically with one another.
The book moves very slowly and some of the Loteria cards don't seem to shed much light on Luz's situation. Luz is writing a journal, speaking in words to a higher power, about her family and her life. She is visited by a social worker named Julia who tries to get her to talk, without success. I wanted to learn more about Luz's current situation. Much of the back history did not seem to be relevant to Luz's current life. Overall, this book is more like a novella than a novel. It has 272 pages but approximately 70 of them are illustrations of the Loteria cards or blank pages. Parts of it rambled as Luz used the cards to try and come up with something about her life without much success.
The ending is a huge surprise and has another twist as well. I appreciated the parts about Luz's family but felt like much of the book was filler rather than relevant to the topic at hand.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved the whole multimedia aspect of the book. It was gorgeous. I have to admit that I was so ignorant that before reading this book, I didn't even know what Loteria was! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sesho
this book tells a riviting tale of a young girl and her father, through the use of small vigniets. leaves you wanting more.Published 3 months ago by valente ayala
First, I ordered the paperback version of this book and received the hard cover version instead. Not that it matters, but I found the thickness of the pages to be, thicker than... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Adrian Garcia
The novel was great! The cover was a bit worn but the pages were fine!Published 11 months ago by Jessica
This book begins with an explanation—the “Rules of the Game”: "Lotería is often described as Mexican bingo, a game of chance. Read morePublished 13 months ago by I Know What You Should Read