The Block Captain's Daughter by Demetria Martinez

The Block Captain's Daughter, Demetria Martinez

The Block Captain's Daughter (novella, 2012, University of Oklahoma Press, 95 pp.)

Guadalupe Anaya, a waitress, is pregnant. She is also the newly elected block captain of Sunflower Street, in charge of raising awareness of safety in her Albuquerque, New Mexico neighborhood. Her campaign platform: God helps those who help themselves. While she waits for the baby, Lupe writes letters to her unborn child, who she names Destiny. It is Lupe's dream that her daughter will be a writer, pushing a pen instead of a broom.

In this highly imaginative work of fiction by the acclaimed author of Mother Tongue, Demetria Martinez weaves a portrait of six unforgettable characters, whose lives intertwine through their activism as they seek to create a better world and find meaning in their own lives. At the center of this circle of friends is Lupe, and her heartfelt letters to Destiny punctuate the narrative.

Deftly alternating between first-person and second-person narratives, conscious states and dream states, The Block Captain's Daughter is full of delightful surprises, even as it deals with universal themes of desire and risk, death and birth, and the powerful ties that bind us together.

"A long-awaited work of fiction for the many readers who love Mother Tongue."

"With her characteristic light touch, Demetria Martinez portrays life on the edge in the strange cultural and political environment called Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her six characters all long for love and justice, friendship and spirituality, an end to the wars, tortillas and huevos rancheros with green chile salsa from the Frontier Restaurant, and above all, a good laugh. A gem among contemporary fiction writers, Demetria Martinez deftly combines vivid characters with her preoccupations with Chicano and Mexican immigrant identity, femaleness, religion, spirituality, and political activism. The Block Captain's Daughter is a tour-de-force in just 96 pages, not to be missed."

      -Mark Rudd, Underground: My Life with SDS and the Weathermen

"Demetria Martinez's new novel, The Block Captain's Daughter, revolves around a group of activists. But more than about activism, it is a novel about faith, whether social, cultural, political or religious faith that propels the characters to action in the hopes of achieving justice and redemption. It is about scrappy individuals who chose not to succumb to disillusion and who, in keeping with the Chitlins Theory, innovatively make good with the bits and pieces life dishes up. Ultimately, it is a novel about the bulwark of strength provided by community, whether determined by friendship, shared interests or familial bonds.

"With self-assurance and a nuanced grace that evokes the author's reading voice, the text resonates with a sly humor. And throughout it logic and fancy intertwine to expose caprices, to provide insights and to challenge assumptions.

"Readers will not only be uplifted and amused, but in the array of characters will likely find aspects of themselves and of others they have chanced to know."

      -Loida Maritza Perez, author of Geographies of Home

The Block Captain's Daughter on    (back to Books)

The Block Captain's Daughter (excerpt)

"Enough bitching about not speaking Spanish," Cory, says your husband Peter, an Anglo fluent in four languages. He sits down at the computer. "I'm going online." A day later a package arrives, flash cards for Latinos who grew up hearing the language but not speaking it; the tongue-tied who ace classes but can't ask for directions to the nearest Laundromat; the guilt-ridden for whom Spanish is a pre-existing condition that flares up when ordering food at a Mexican restaurant, then recedes when the margaritas wear off."


Demetria Martinez
Author, Activist, Writing Coach
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