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So Far from God: A Novel by Ana Castillo

So Far from God: A Novel (edition 2005)

by Ana Castillo

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546526,690 (3.91)7
Title:So Far from God: A Novel
Authors:Ana Castillo
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2005), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library

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So Far from God: A Novel by Ana Castillo



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“So Far From God” by Ana Castillo is a peculiar magical realism novel set in a small village of Tome in New Mexico. Abandoned by her gambling husband, Sofia single-handedly raises four daughters: Esperanza, an ambitious news reporter; Fe, a jilted bride suffering from a nervous breakdown; Caridad, a promiscuous nurse who is mutilated by a mysterious creature; and saintly La Loca who dies at the age of three and after resurrection avoids human contact. This unusual Chicano family’s saga has a little bit of everything, from tragedy to comedy, from realism to miracles, from cultural heritage to feminism.


1) Worthwhile.
“So Far From God” is quite odd but it is nonetheless an engaging and moving read. And the more I think about it, the better it gets! It took me a while to get used to the author’s writing style but I grew to love it - her voice is strong and her narration is very readable, kind of gossipy. My favorite part is the later chapter on Fe - so tragically realistic and thought-provoking!

2) Tasteful magical realism.
In “So Far From God,” magical realism is subtle and often morphs into symbolism. The events can be explained away or at least understood as metaphors (with a few exceptions, namely, what the hell happened to Caridad and Esmeralda?), thus I would recommend this novel to the novice reader of the genre.

3) Authentic.
“So Far From God” has an authentic vibe as it is loaded with a blend of Chicano, Native American and Anglo cultures: folklore, local wisdom, religious beliefs, home remedies and even recipes. Plus, the language is authentic too as there are a LOT of words, phrases and even sentences in Spanish and a few obscure grammatical structures.

4) Thought-provoking.
Although Castillo’s tone is humorous and upbeat, this novel brings to light a lot of serious issues such as global violence, worker exploitation, violation of health and safety standards, environmental contamination, gross materialism and female discrimination. Plus, the story is told from a strong feminist perspective as all four of its protagonists, in their own way, break the stereotypical image of a Chicana woman.


1) Slow beginning.
I had a hard time getting into the story. The narrator’s voice just seemed too distant, making it hard to relate to or care about the characters. Eventually, I got used to the writing style and enjoyed the story but not before I read almost a hundred pages.

2) Spanish overload.
As I mentioned before, there is A LOT of Spanish in this book. The upside: authenticity. The downside: I don’t speak Spanish, so I had to use a dictionary. A LOT.

3) Chapter titles.
The chapter titles are extra long. They basically summarize the whole upcoming chapter (yes, spoilers included).

VERDICT: 3.5 out of 5

Ana Castillo’s magical realism novel “So Far From God” is a charmingly odd and charismatic take on the lives of Chicana women. Although a little bit slow at first, this book is worth reading. ( )
1 vote AgneJakubauskaite | Aug 26, 2015 |
Castillo is a very clever satirist. I know I only understood about a third of the allusions and symbolism, but I caught some chuckle-inducing moments. This is another book that has given me more insight into the real, historical culture of my adopted state of New Mexico. ( )
1 vote TrgLlyLibrarian | Feb 1, 2015 |
A novel of the miracles and tragedies of a Chicana mother and her four daughters in a central New Mexico village.

Castillo immerses readers in the particular world of Hispanic New Mexico villages: their people, their beliefs, and their language. Her writing is intense, sweeping readers into laughter and pain and back again. Supernatural forces move in and out of the story, yet the circumstances of the characters are all too real as they deal with everything from war in the Middle East to the loss of ancestral land. Traditional religion, Roman Catholic and native, are interwoven with political protests.

Read more on my blog: me, you and books
2 vote mdbrady | Apr 15, 2012 |
Fast, fun, and weird, this is one of those addictive books that sweeps you in and leaves you breathless. It's a wacky ride, as humorous as it is heartbreaking as it is surreal, but one which is surprisingly touching for all of its fast-paced explorations. This is plot-driven Chicana literature with fascinating personalities, as beautiful as it is strange, and worth the read on a quiet day that needs something outside of the norm. Come with an open mind, ready to enjoy the surprises. ( )
2 vote whitewavedarling | Oct 10, 2010 |
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"So far from God -- So near the United States" -- Porfirio Diaz, dictator of Mexico during the Mexican Civil War.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0452272092, Paperback)

From the American Book Award-winning author of The Mixquiahuala Letters comes the story of a remarkable woman and her four daughters living in New M exico--a novel shaped by influences as diverse as Mexican mythology, Catholicism, and today's headlines. Reading tour.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:50 -0400)

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Tome is a small, outwardly sleepy hamlet in central New Mexico. In Ana Castillo's hands, though, it stands wondrously revealed as a place of marvels, teeming with life and with all manner of collisions: the past with the present, the real with the supernatural, the comic with the horrific, the Native American with the Hispano with the Anglo, the women with the men. With the talkative, intimate voice and the stylistic and narrative freedom of a Southwestern Cervantes, the.Author relates the story of two crowded decades in the life of a Chicana family. The mother, Sofia, holds things together in the years following the disappearance of her husband Domingo (he of the Clark Gable mustache and the uncontrollable gambling habit). Then there are the daughters: Esperanza, Chicana campus radical turned career woman and television news reporter; Caridad, a nurse who dulls the pain of being jilted with nightly bouts of alcohol and anonymous sex.Fe, the prim and proper bank employee in constant quest for the good life; and la Loca, whose "death" and subsequent resurrection at age three have left her strange and saintly and attuned to higher spiritual frequencies. Ana Castillo's triumph in So Far from God is to weave the mundane and the miraculous, the modern and the archaic, and the tragic and the humorous into one rich novelistic fabric. Hers is a homegrown magical realism, leavened with sly commentary.Controlled anger, and a distinct feminist point of view of the world and the cosmos. Of all the marvels in this book, and there are many, the greatest is the achievement of its creator.… (more)

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