New Book: The Farthest Home Is in an Empire of Fire: A Tejano Elegy

The Farthest Home Is in an Empire of Fire: A Tejano Elegy by John Phillip Santos

A family’s epic origins in the hinterlands of Mexico that became Texas-and earlier, in Iberia

In his acclaimed 1999 memoir Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation, John Phillip Santos told the story of one Mexican family- his father’s-set within the larger story of Mexico itself. In this beautifully written new book, he tells of how another family-this time, his mother’s-erased and forgot over time their ancient origins in Spain.

Every family has a forgotten tale of where it came from. Who is driven to tell it and why? Weaving together a highly original mix of autobiography, conquest history, elegy, travel, family remembrance, and time travelling narration, Santos offers an unforgettable testimony to this calling and describes a lifelong quest to find the missing chronicle of his mother’s family, one that takes him to various locations in South Texas and Mexico, to New York City, to Spain, and ultimately to the Middle East. Blending genres brilliantly, Santos raises profound questions about whether we can ever find our true homeland and what we can learn from our treasured, shared cultural legacies.

About the Author

John Phillip Santos is the author of Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation, a finalist for the National Book Award. His articles on Latino art, culture, and politics have appeared in The New York Times and Los Angeles Times. A former writer and produced of television documentaries for CBS and PBS, he is also a poet and the recipient of numerous literary awards.

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