We are thrilled to share that MAGICAL/REALISM by Vanessa Angélica Villarreal has received a starred review from Kirkus!

“With brilliant insight and masterful writing, Villarreal examines fantasy at close range…the magic of this collection is the elasticity and brilliance with which Villarreal is able to take critical analysis and connect it to her own experiences. A wondrous book that will change the way you think about fantasy and magic.”

Read the full review here: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/vanessa-angelica-villarreal/magicalrealism/#:~:text=A%20political%2C%20personal%2C%20and%20immensely,personal%20essay%20with%20intellectual%20criticism

In MAGICAL/REALISM, Vanessa Angélica Villarreal offers us an intimate mosaic of migration, violence, and colonial erasure through the lens of her marriage and her experiences navigating American monoculture. As she attempts to recover the truth from the absences and silences within her life, her relationships, and those of her ancestors, Vanessa pieces together her story from the fragments of music, memory, and fantasy that have helped her make sense of it all. 

The trauma of remembering gives the collection its unique structure: Each chapter is an attempt to reimagine and re-world what has been lost. In one essay, Vanessa examines the gender performativity of Nirvana and Selena; in another, she offers a radical but crucial racial reading of Jon Snow in Game of Thrones; and throughout the collection, she explores how fantasy can provide healing when grief feels insurmountable. She reflects on the moments of her life that are too painful to remember—her difficult adolescence, her role as the eldest daughter of Mexican immigrants, her divorce—and finds a new way to archive her history and map her future(s), one infused with the hope and joy of fantasy and magical thinking.

By engaging readers in her project of rebuilding narrative, Vanessa broadens our understanding of what memoir and cultural criticism can be. Magical/Realism is a wise, tender, and essential collection that carves a path toward a new way of remembering and telling our stories.

Vanessa Angélica Villarreal was born in the Rio Grande Valley to formerly undocumented Mexican immigrants. She is the author of the poetry collection Beast Meridian (Noemi Press, Akrilica Series 2017), recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award, a Kate Tufts Discovery Award nomination,  and winner of the John A. Robertson Award for Best First Book of Poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine’s The Cut, Harper’s Bazaar, Oxford American, Paris Review, Poetry Magazine, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of a 2021 National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship, and a doctoral candidate in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where she is working on a poetry and an essay collection while raising her son in Los Angeles. Find her on Twitter @Vanessid.

Vanessa Angélica Villarreal is represented by Amanda Orozco.