Hello! Are you a person who loves to read but is often overwhelmed by the task of choosing a new book? Do you have a million open tabs of book recommendation lists? Do you wish you could hire someone to pick your books out for you — is a book concierge even a thing? Do you straight-up love books and want a place to chat about them with fellow discerning, thoughtful, and enthusiastic readers?
Guess what: The BuzzFeed Book Club is probably for you.
Each month, BuzzFeed Books selects one exciting new book for members to read together. We'll chat about these books in the BuzzFeed Book Club Facebook group — where we’ll ask discussion questions, share our opinions, gush and rant about our favorite and least favorite characters, make plot predictions, host Q&As with the authors, and generally drop in random thoughts as we read together.
You’ll get three newsletters a month, full of exclusive content from the authors, highlights from the Facebook group, blurbs from future selections, giveaways, and more.
It’ll be a blast — and it’s free!
For April, we're reading Gabriela Garcia's debut novel, Of Women and Salt. Read an excerpt here.
This poignant story follows multiple generations of Cuban and Cuban American women. Jeanette, combatting addiction, is determined to understand her family history, but her mother — who’s still processing the emotional effects of leaving Cuba — won’t give up much. When Jeanette travels to Cuba to visit her grandmother, uncomfortable secrets and betrayals come to light. In breathtaking prose and evocative imagery, Garcia allows the reader to travel through history alongside these complicated, resilient women as they navigate a legacy of trauma. Get your copy.
We asked Garcia to tell us a bit about how the book came to be. Here's what she had to say:
Of Women and Salt has many origin stories, because different threads came to me at different times. Some of it came to me years ago when I was working as an organizer primarily focused on deportation defense work. It was around 2014, and it hadn’t even occurred to me that I could ever publish a book. But I was talking to women in detention. I visited a couple of the family detention centers that were cropping up around the country, growing in size each day as deportations ramped up across the country. I started writing these little snippets, observations. I think it was my own way of processing. And some of that writing developed into the thread of the novel that is about Gloria and Ana, a Salvadoran mother and daughter who are neighbors to Jeanette, a character whose family immigrated from Cuba in a very different manner.
Pieces of Jeanette’s family’s story also came to me in different ways, like once, on a trip to Cuba, when I visited a museum exhibit that featured letters from the author Victor Hugo to Cuban independence fighters and workers in the 19th century. That interplay between literary culture and a political movement during a fraught moment of vast inequities in Cuba became fascinating to me. My family had always been into cigars, and I’d grown up around Montecristos and Romeo y Julietas, but I had no idea they were named after favorite books read to cigar workers in tobacco factories. My interest in this history sparked the chapter that features Maria Isabel, who is the only woman working in a cigar factory in 1866.
When I started writing the novel, I knew I didn’t want to write a linear story that followed a traditional story structure. I wanted the book to feel fractured, the way memory feels fractured, the way we pass on stories. And so I started combining these different threads that had come to me at different times into a narrative about two families whose lives come together in ways they don’t foresee and that illuminate other kinds of fractures—between mothers and daughters, along racial and class lines, between the stories women tell themselves and the ones they can’t see. I thought a lot about how stories function as I wrote my own.
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Illustrations by Julian Targowski for BuzzFeed.