In 1985 Behar, a feminist anthropologist working in Mexico, befriended street peddler Esperanza Hernandez, an Indian rumored to be a witch--townspeople claimed she used black magic to blind her ex-husband after he had regularly battered her and then left her for his mistress. In Behar's novelistic telling of Esperanza's life story, we meet a macha woman whose arrogance alienated her own mother, and whom Behar implausibly casts as a feminist heroine. Esperanza, who found redemption in a spiritist cult built around Pancho Villa, blames her pent-up rage for the deaths in infancy of the first six of her 12 children. She beat up her husband's lover and threw one of her sons out of the household; she also beat a daughter for refusing to support her and disowned another son for having what she considered an incestuous affair with his uncle's ex-mistress. Behar, who teaches at the University of Michigan, strains to find parallels between her own experience as a Cuban immigrant and that of her bellicose subject. Photos. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/1993 Release date: 01/01/1993 Genre: Nonfiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.