It is our pleasure that Atria Boooks/Simon & Schuster (US) has acquired World English Rights of ‘Hierba Santa’ (Sacred Herbs), by F.G. Haghenbeck, for publication in Spring 2012.
Originally published in Spanish by Editorial Planeta Mexicana (Mexico only).
Rights also sold to: Suhrkamp/Insel (Germany), Orlando Publishers/Bruna (The Netherlands), Planeta Brasil (Brazil), Shangai 99 (China).
The translator into english will be Cuban author Achy Obejas, who also translated -to much acclaim- Junot Díaz's 'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao' (winner of the Pulitzer in 2008).
Hierba Santa, with echoes of Magic Realism, is a vivid and tender homage to Frida Khalo, a woman who changed the course of modern art and has become an icon for many people all over the world.
A little handwritten notebook that Frida Khalo called ‘The Book of the Holy Herb’ was to be exhibited at the Palace of Fine Arts on occasion of the 100th anniversary of her birth. The notebook disappeared on the same day that the exhibition was opened...
After a severe accident in the crash of a bus and a trolley car, and after she died for the first time, Frida Khalo reaches an agreement with her Benefactress (the Death herself): Frida will be allowed to live, but, in exchange, every year she will have to prepare an offering to the Dead as a rememberance of this agreement.
Since then, Frida writes down every receipe that she prepares for the ‘Día de Muertos’ (The Day of the Dead). This is a holiday celebrated in Mexico, which focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration occurs on November 1st and 2nd. Traditions include building private altars honoring the deceased, using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts.
The receipes are gathered toghether by Frida in her beloved notebook. While year after year the ritual is repeated, Frida’s life goes on impetuously, full of rapture and pain. She meets Diego Rivera, the man whom she will marry and share her life with; but who is also the man who will mark the beginning of her second death. She lives the Mexican Revolution and the socialist upraise, a life behind the fame of her husband.
Frida loves and desires madly, but she lives on borrowed time; her aching and ruined body constantly reminds her that her Benefactress is taking away bits of her soul day after day, and that their final encounter is becoming closer.
Hierba Santa was published under the pen name of Alexandra Scheiman, but all international publishers will publish it using the author’s real name.
F.G. Haghenbeck (Mexico, 1965) is the author of acclaimed novels in Mexico, amongst which Trago amargo (winner of the National Award Una Vuelta de Tuerca) and Aliento a muerte. His novels have been translated into languages such as English, German, French, Dutch, Portuguese or Serbian.