FROM THE WINNER OF THE 2021 PULITZER PRIZE IN POETRY.
When My Brother Was an Aztec is a work of courage and invention - one that foregrounds the particularities of family dynamics and individual passion against the backdrop of Western mythologies and a deeply rooted cultural history. Natalie Diaz's arresting debut explores a brother's addiction and its devastating effects on a household, while offering a political critique of our nations and their pasts. It acknowledges absences and uncomfortable silences, as well as conjuring vivid voices and presences, from Antigone and Houdini to Huitzilopochtli and Jesus.
Stolen cowboy boots, violins on fire; a mariachi band playing in the bathroom, a black bayonet carried between the shoulder blades; the beauty of busted fruit, the sight of hellish visions - Diaz both revels and reveals through her distinctive use of language and imagery, bringing to life every intimate and communal encounter, blooming abundance from scarcity. The result is a wrenching portrayal of sacrifice, want, despair and fortitude that feels truly transformative.
Natalie Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, won an American Book Award. Her second, Postcolonial Love Poem, won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the T. S. Eliot Prize and was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. She is a 2018 MacArthur Fellow, as well as a Lannan Literary Fellow and a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Artist Fellow.
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