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This vibrant, provocative début novel explores the dreams and struggles of three generations of Dominican women. Graciela, born on the outskirts of Santo Domingo at the turn of the century, is a headstrong adventuress who comes of age during the U.S. occupation. Too poor to travel beyond her imagination, she is frustrated by the monotony of her life, which erodes her love affairs and her relationship with Mercedes, her daughter. Mercedes, abandoned by Graciela at thirteen, turns to religion for solace and, after managing to keep a shop alive during the Trujillo dictatorship, emigrates to New York with her husband and granddaughter, Leila. Leila inherits her great-grandmother Graciela’s passion-driven recklessness. But, caught as she is between cultures, her freedom arrives with its own set of obligations and dangers.
”Rosario’s writing is lively and rich with emotion throughout. . . . it is impossible not to be moved.” –The Washington Post Book World
“Rosario does an excellent job conjuring the colorful, vibrant scenes of Caribbean life.” –Los Angeles Times
“An electrifying debut. Powerfully written, meticulously imagined, and arresting to its core, Nelly Rosario’s novel is a flame for the mind and heart, the sort you are endlessly grateful for.” –Junot Díaz, author of Drown
“Like a Caribbean Scheherazade, Rosario casts a spell on her readers with this saga of three generations of Dominican women whose yearning becomes our own. What they want and what we get reading Song of the Water Saints is a sense of luminous world, complex and layered, full of passion and adventure.” –Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies
“A gorgeous first novel, epic and poetic.” –Edwidge Danticat, author of Breath, Eyes, Memory