Carla Trujillo‘s Faith and Fat Chances is a unique tale full of magical realism and great humor. Humor is lacking, I believe, in modern fiction, and I absolutely appreciated her ability to conjure up chuckles all the way through.
Not that the story lacks seriousness. We find ourselves in a down-and-out section of Santa Fe called Dogtown, where a materially poor but spiritually rich community is being threatened with extinction. There’s a plot, spearheaded by one of its own people and backed by a powerful mayor, to plow the whole area under to create a vineyard. Hooray for the privileged chardonnay and brie set of Santa Fe, too bad for the displaced people who will be unable to afford housing outside of their community. Not to mention the destruction of an entire subculture.
However, Pepa Romero, a respected unconventional cunandera calls her people to revolt and works her magic to help the revolution proceed. Her trickery is effective, often in ways she never imagined, even pulling the local priest into the maelstrom of magic she creates. The complex dynamic of mistaken identity and a biblical torrent of rain and a host of other hilarious events create an atmosphere of constant action, suspense, and humor.
It’s a confrontation between the virtuous poor and political power and betrayal entirely appropriate for this tense electoral season. We need a laugh, and Trujillo provides.