Written nearly a decade after the popular Lithium for Medea, Palm Latitudes, Kate Braverman's second novel and arguably her chef d'oeuvre, explores the intertwined lives of three women who await absolution and revelation in the bougainvillea- and violence-filled "barrio" of Los Angeles. Frances Ramos is a voluptuous prostitute who flaunts her wealth and is held in high esteem by the local street gangs. Gloria Hernandez is a dutiful young wife and mother—until her husband's act of betrayal sparks her growing estrangement and fury. Marta Ortega, a prophetic old woman connected viscerally with the forces/elements of nature, nods as past and present mingle and quietly charts the cross-pollination of her turbulent neighborhood, and of human destiny.
Collected inSelect Fiction Favorites
We regret to announce the death of beloved American author Kate Braverman, who passed away on October 13, 2019 at her home in Santa Fe, NM. She was 70 years old. She was the author of 11 books, including three titles we were honored to publish, Lithium for Medea, Palm Latitudes, and The Incantation of Frida K. This is a tremendous loss for the literary community and readers worldwide. She will be dearly missed.
“She was vivid and intense. She was uncompromising,” said [Janet] Fitch, who called Braverman “a high priestess of literature.”
. . .
“She felt mediocrity was evil and should be stamped out ... it was as if she was defending the fortress from bad writing.”
Braverman believed a writer’s role is to uncover truths most people liked to ignore. “If you are a revolutionary, as I am, that’s what you want to do,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2006.
“I’ve written books as acts of discovery: things I need to know and that I need to touch. And it’s very dangerous work to deal with the most toxic internal elements. ... I feel like Madame Curie at my computer. I feel like I should be hemorrhaging from my eyes and ears.”
Braverman’s characters were often afflicted by isolation and displacement, experiences she knew intimately. “I give a voice to characters outside the so-called American mainstream: Bohemian artists on the canals of Venice, women in the barrio and the new denizen of Los Angeles, the single mom,” she told The Times in 1989. “The character of a poet and a single mother is black humor in itself.
“Everything I write is about Los Angeles ... the dark side of the tropics, the manic nature of the city, its mutant beauty, its power, the wildness of these self-created people.”