Announcing Our Latest Title, THE SECRET MUSIC AT TORDESILLAS by Marjorie Sandor

The Secret Music at Tordesillas by Marjorie Sandor

We here at Hidden River are thrilled to announce the upcoming release of our latest title The Secret Music at Tordesillas, by Marjorie Sandor, which is the inaugural winner of our Tuscarora Award in Historical Fiction.

Release Date: June 15, 2020 from Hidden River Press

The novel is set in 16th Century Spain. It is April, 1555, and Juana I of Castile, the Spanish queen known as “la loca,” has died after forty-seven years in forced seclusion at Tordesillas. Her last musician, Juan de Granada, refuses to depart with the other servants, forcing two functionaries of the Holy Office of the Inquisition to interrogate him in the now-empty palace. But is it really empty? Or is there, as Holy Office suspects, a heretic hidden on the premises, a converso secretly practicing the forbidden rites of Judaism? Only Juan knows the answer, and his subversive tale is at once a ballad of lost love and a last gambit to save a life—and a rich cultural and spiritual tradition on the verge of erasure.

Sandor has created a story so alive, so filled with intrigue and passion, that the time of the Spanish Inquisition comes boldly to life. So often, the story is told from the perspective of those Christians. For them, the reclamation of territories from the Muslims, through the conquests of Ferdinand and Isabella, is understood as a triumph. But this was certainly not so for the practicing, pious Jews and Muslims who had thrived, co-existing peacefully, during the period of Islamic rule. For them, the time brought the terrors of the Spanish Inquisition. What was it like to be a Jew or a Muslim during such a time? Specifically, what was life like for a court musician, secretly faithful to his real religion, but forced to masquerade as a convert to Christianity?

The Secret Music at Tordesillas has received much well-deserved praise:

“Radiant, passionate, deeply intelligent and intensely moving, this brilliant novel brings alive a place and time surprisingly resonant with our own. Love and music burn like a laser through these glorious pages.”
–Andrea Barrett

“In The Secret Music of Tordesillas, the fabulously gifted Marjorie Sandor tells the absorbing story of a Jewish musician and his queen, both living precarious lives in the tumultuous world of the Spanish Inquisition. Sandor’s lustrous prose resonates like the music she so eloquently describes and her characters are exquisitely complicated. Reading these gorgeous pages, I felt that I too had taken up residence in some castle full of dark corners.”
–Margot Livesey

“An historical novel of striking imagination and lyricism, this sly tale of sixteenth-century Spain, with its secrets and masks involving the interrelationships of Catholics, Muslims and Jews, has an uncanny bearing on our own country’s diversity tensions. It is a pleasure to have another of Marjorie Sandor’s delicious fictions: she is writing at the top of her form.”
–Phillip Lopate

“I found Marjorie Sandor’s The Secret Music at Tordesillas irresistible, as appealing for its grand romantic adventure as it is for its clear-eyed exploration of culture, tradition, and identity. Its narrative–replete with hidden Jews, palace intrigue, a captive queen, a hopeless love–is rendered in a prose as intoxicating as the ancient music that informs it. This is history in the form of a haunting song.”
–Steve Stern

The eBook is available with Kindle Select. The hard copy of the book will be published June 15, 2020, and can be pre-ordered through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and through independent bookstores.

Marjorie Sandor, Winner of The Tuscarora Award for Historical Fiction

Marjorie Sandor is the author of four books of fiction and non-fiction, including the memoir, The Late Interiors: A Life Under Construction, (2011) and the 2004 Winner of the National Jewish Book Award in Fiction, Portrait of my Mother, Who Posed Nude in Wartime: Stories. Her earlier book of personal essays, The Night Gardener: A Search for Home, won the 2000 Oregon Book Award for Literary Nonfiction. In February 2015, St. Martins Press published her anthology, The Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows. She teaches creative writing at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

Her debut novel, The Secret Music at Tordesillas, is the inaugural winner of the Tuscarora Award for Historical Fiction, and is forthcoming from Hidden River Press in 2020.
Marjorie’s work has appeared in such magazines as The Georgia Review, AGNI, and TriQuarterly, as well as in Best American Short Stories 1985 and 1988, The Pushcart Prize XIII, Twenty Under Thirty, and The Best American Spiritual Writing 2000. Sandor’s characters—real and imagined–inhabit urban gardens and old houses. They linger on the ever-shifting threshold between home and wilderness, between youth and old age, and most of all between the human quest for adventure, and the desire for refuge. In her stories and essays, she explores family, community life, and the pull of art to expose our darkest and best-kept secrets, our restlessness and comical mistakes and deep regrets; our desire to create a domestic paradise against all odds.

Praise for Marjorie:

“Whether she is writing essays, as in the splendid The Night Gardener (1999), or fiction, Sandor’s prose is as tangy and luscious as just-plucked fruit.”
—Donna Seaman, Booklist

“Marjorie Sandor has all the skills of a masterful writer of stories, but her compassion and beguiling tone are all her own. Her distinctive style and rich understanding of people raise our hopes.”
—Guy Davenport

You Are Invited to a Virtual Book Launch for REMAKING ACHILLES by Carol Tyx, Winner of our Willow Run Poetry Book Award

Remaking Achilles: Slicing in Angola’s History

ZOOM BOOK RELEASE
REMAKING ACHILLES:
SLICING INTO ANGOLA’S HISTORY

Carol Tyx announces the release of her new book Remaking Achilles: Slicing into Angola’s History.

She will read from the book in a zoom book launch Wednesday May 13 7-8 PM CST. Use the link at the end of this article to register for the event.

Inspiration for Tyx’s work came from a painful historical event in 1951, when 37 inmates of Angola Prison in Louisiana slashed their own Achilles tendons in order to make public the brutal conditions at the prison. Interest in this event led Tyx to the prison itself, where she did extensive research and, with what began as a plan for one or two poems, found herself writing an entire book of poetry based on this incident. Remaking Achilles received the Willow Run Poetry Book Award from Hidden River Press.

At its heart, Remaking Achilles is about resisting injustice and how inmates, with the support of a larger community, pushed for prison reform. “With each vivid and lyrical insight, Carol Tyx weaves a compelling poetic tale depicting the effects of institutional racism and cruelty, of unimaginable hardship, but also of the human impulse to resist and seek dignity,” writes Andy Douglas, author of Redemption Songs: A Year in the Life of a Community Prison Choir.

Tyx’s involvement with prisons emerges from a book club she co-founded at the Anamosa State Penitentiary ten years ago. Getting to know the men in the book club challenged her stereotypes about people who are incarcerated and whetted her desire for criminal justice reforms. Tyx is part of a state-wide coalition, spear-headed by the ACLU, to restore voting rights to felons in Iowa.

Carol Tyx earned her PhD in English at the University of Iowa. A professor emeritus at Mt. Mercy University, Tyx is currently the artist-in-residence at Prairiewoods, an eco-spirituality center in Hiawatha. Her previous books include Rising to the Rim, published by Brick Road Poetry Press (2013), and The Fifty Poems, published by Raven Rocks Press (2003). She is available for readings, and review copies are available upon request.

TO ORDER: Signed copies are available from our wonderful local bookstore, Prairie Lights. At present Prairie Lights is closed to shoppers, but will deliver without charge in the Iowa City/Coralville area and will ship to further locations. To order a copy from Prairie Lights call 319-337-2681. You can also order the book directly from the author at caroltyx@gmail.com. Two dollars from every sale will be donated to Inside Out Reentry Community, a local returning citizens support organization. Carol’s book is also available at online booksellers, such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon — but we encourage our readers to make their purchases through BookShop.org, which is the platform for online booksales from independent bookstores. That link can be found here.

TO REGISTER FOR THE ZOOM LAUNCH: https://us02web.zoom.us/w/87267201305?tk=men1nhxj_kgqeZ5bsfMdJZls0PnrSLINwe_8qhTJ4qo.DQEAAAAUUYfRGRZSMFFJOFZCVlMzRzRNU3lNZkwwUG5BAA

Jeffrey Voccola Receives the Inaugural Blue Mountain Novel Award

Jeffrey Voccola
winner of The Blue Mountain Award for his novel KINGS ROW

Jeffrey Voccola, of Kutztown, Pennsylvania has won the inaugural Blue Mountain Novel Award for his novel, Kings Row. The award carries a $1,000 cash prize and publication with Hidden River Press, an imprint of Hidden River Publishing.

Jeffrey received an MFA from Emerson College. His fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals, including The Cabinet, Noctua Review, Cottonwood, Beacon Street Review, Folio, Whirligig. His essays have been published in Inside Sources, The Las Vegas Sun, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Jeffrey is currently Associate Professor of Fiction Writing and Director of the Writing Program at Kutztown University.

Kings Row is what Jeffrey calls a “literary mystery” about the murder of a university freshman in a post-industrial college town by one of the working class men of the community. Describing his novel, Jeffrey tells us, “Kings Row explores elements of racism and class-ism as they exist today, particularly in small communities…as rapid changes in demographics and social norms threaten their way of life. Kings Row is a tragic and heartbreaking story of two Americas growing farther apart. The book contains multiple points of view, including the victim, Christopher Roche, and the murder is mentioned in the first chapter. As a result, the reader is able to follow these two young men as their lives intersect. As a professor at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, I have a deep understanding of the characters, setting, and premise of this novel. Although the book is a work of fiction, the central conflict is based on an actual event that took place in Kutztown only a few years ago.”

The manuscript captured the imagination of our staff at Hidden River for its deep understanding of a struggle taking place across the U.S. and in all areas where the shifts in economy have hollowed out formerly thriving manufacturing towns, ruining lives and families and fracturing communities. The violence that takes place in the novel is representative of the kind of rage that is boiling beneath the surface of our society, rage which is often taken out on the most vulnerable among us rather than on those truly guilty of destroying our once-thriving economy.

Exploring a heartbreaking subject with language both honest and transcendent, Kings Row carries the reader along, through its exploration of the inner lives of many characters, to create a tapestry of suffering truly illustrative of current day America.

Here is a clip of Jeffrey reading from a portion of the novel:

The Blue Mountain Novel Award is offered yearly by Hidden River Arts. Its next deadline is November 15, 2019. For more information and guidelines, please see our blog page for The Blue Mountain Award.