‘Woman of Light,’ Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s First Novel Is an Unparalleled Generational Saga

Woman of Light Kali Fajardo-Anstine BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of the author/BELatina.

After making a name for herself with her first collection of short stories, “Sabrina & Corina,” Latina and Native American author Kali Fajardo-Anstine has released an ambitious novel you won’t be able to put down.

“Woman of Light” is a richly imagined generational saga, filled with unforgettable characters and untold stories, that cements her reputation as a masterful voice in fiction. Inspired by her own family’s history in the American West, Fajardo-Anstine researched and crafted this book for more than ten years.

From Wild West shows to the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, “Woman of Light” unearths some of America’s most buried stories. The result is an unforgettable and timely novel.

Luz “Little Light” Lopez, a tea leaf reader and laundress, is left to fend for herself after her older brother, Diego, a snake charmer, and factory worker, is run out of town by a violent white mob. As Luz navigates 1930s Denver alone, she begins to have visions that transport her to her Indian homeland in nearby Lost Territory. Luz recalls her ancestors’ origins, how her family flourished, and how they were threatened. She witnesses the sinister forces that have devastated her people and their lands for generations. In the end, it is up to Luz to save her family’s stories from disappearing into oblivion. Written in the unique voice of Kali Fajardo-Anstine, the funny and complex lives of the Lopez family fill the pages of this multi-generational western saga.

Fajardo-Anstine thus becomes one of the most potent voices in contemporary Latino and Native American literature, building on narrative traditions such as magical realism.

More importantly, Fajardo-Anstine has transformed into the voice I longed to see on the bookshelves.

“The entire reason I’m a writer is because I didn’t see myself in the space. Books are my culture,” the author told The Rumpus in a 2019 interview. “I mean, I started selling books when I was fifteen years old at West Side Books in Denver. I remember somebody once at the bookstore said something like, ‘How audacious do you have to be to think that you can have your voice on all these shelves?’ And they did that gesture where they like spun their hand around at the books. And I was like, but I need to because my people aren’t here.”

“I wrote my stories because I had to if. I don’t do it; who will? I’m hoping that with my books, more people with my background, and from other marginalized spaces across the country, will take on this task of trying to put themselves more in the center of spaces that have been reserved for white men,” she concluded.

Three years later, the author has published a novel that immortalizes women’s strength and resilience, survival, and the power of identity.

Published by Penguin Random House, “Woman of Light” will be available in June 2022.