The Bindery is thrilled to host the launch party for Ingrid Rojas Contreras' debut novel, Fruit of the Drunken Tree. Joining Ingrid in conversation is our muse and yours, Carolina De Robertis. More to be announced soon, but please save the date and join us!
Seven-year-old Chula and her older sister Cassandra enjoy carefree lives thanks to their gated community in Bogotá, but the threat of kidnappings, car bombs, and assassinations hover just outside the neighborhood walls, where the godlike drug lord Pablo Escobar continues to elude authorities and capture the attention of the nation.
When their mother hires Petrona, a live-in-maid from the city's guerrilla-occupied slum, Chula makes it her mission to understand Petrona's mysterious ways. But Petrona's unusual behavior belies more than shyness. She is a young woman crumbling under the burden of providing for her family as the rip tide of first love pulls her in the opposite direction. As both girls' families scramble to maintain stability amidst the rapidly escalating conflict, Petrona and Chula find themselves entangled in a web of secrecy that will force them both to choose between sacrifice and betrayal.
Inspired by the author's own life, and told through the alternating perspectives of the willful Chula and the achingly hopeful Petrona, Fruit of the Drunken Tree contrasts two very different, but inextricable coming-of-age stories. In lush prose, Rojas Contreras sheds light on the impossible choices women are often forced to make in the face of violence and the unexpected connections that can blossom out of desperation.
"Set against the backdrop of Pablo Escobar's stranglehold on the fate of a nation, Fruit of the Drunken Tree is a spellbinding story of two girls whose realities collide and who are forced to make nearly unbearable choices in the name of survival. The thrum of mystery and danger haunts every page, and you won't be able to look away until you turn the last one." – Cristina Henríquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans
"A dazzling and heart-stopping portrait of the intimacy of violence, how a nation's wounds tear into families and betray its most innocent citizens. Fruit of the Drunken Tree pulses with reckoning, rebellion, and raw beauty. Rojas Contreras is a thrilling and brave new talent, and it will be a long time before Chula's and Petrona's voices leave me." – Patricia Engel, author of The Veins of the Ocean
"Ingrid Rojas Contreras’s gripping debut explores a complex and destructive friendship against the background of Colombia’s political violence. As terror creeps over the walls of Chula’s gated neighborhood, the girls discover that betrayal and sacrifice are sometimes indistinguishable. Like the fragrant drunken tree that so discomfits Chula’s neighbors, this beautiful novel draws the reader under its treacherous, intoxicating spell." – Kristin Valdez Quade, author of Night at the Fiestas
“When women tell stories, they are finally at the center of the page. When women of color write history, we see the world as we have never seen it before. In Fruit of the Drunken Tree, Ingrid Rojas Contreras honors the lives of girls who witness war. Brava! I was swept up by this story.” – Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street
“Ingrid Rojas Contreras captures the violent history of drug-torn Colombia as it affects the intimate lives of two characters, a girl and the young maid in her household. She has spot-on command of both points of view, their voices, their secret hearts. What a range of insight, compassion and understanding of the impact of violence on families and most especially on young women at different levels of society. A coming of age story, an immigrant story, a thrilling mystery novel, thoroughly lived and felt—this is an exciting debut novel that showcases a writer already in full command of her powers. Make room on your shelves for a writer whose impressive debut promises many more.” – Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies and How the García Girls Lost Their Accents
Ingrid Rojas Contreras was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. Her essays and short stories have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Electric Literature, Guernica, and Huffington Post, among others. She has received fellowships and awards from The Missouri Review, Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, VONA, Hedgebrook, The Camargo Foundation, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures. She is the book columnist for KQED Arts, the Bay Area's NPR affiliate.
A writer of Uruguayan origins, Carolina De Robertis is the author of the novels The Gods of Tango, Perla, and the international bestseller The Invisible Mountain. Her books have been translated into seventeen languages, and have been named Best Books of the Year in venues including the San Francisco Chronicle, O, The Oprah Magazine, BookList, and NBC. She is the recipient of a Stonewall Book Award, Italy’s Rhegium Julii Prize, and a 2012 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, among other honors. She is also an award-winning translator of Latin American and Spanish literature, and editor of the anthology Radical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times, which features essays by leading thinkers and writers in response to the shifting political atmosphere in the U.S. In 2017, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts named De Robertis on its 100 List of “people, organizations, and movements that are shaping the future of culture.” She teaches fiction and literary translation at San Francisco State University, and lives in Oakland, California, with her wife and two children. She is currently at work on her fourth novel, The Burning Edge of the World.
Please note: This event will be at The Bindery, 1727 Haight.
This is an all ages event. The bar opens at 7, event begins at 7:30pm.
RSVP appreciated but not required.
If you cannot attend the event but would like to requeset a signed copy of Fruit of the Drunken Tree, order below and put your request in the comments field.