THE FRUIT OF THE DRUNKEN TREE depicts a world where the threat of violence lurks in even the safest of spaces and sensitively explores the even greater emotional cost of living in its shadow
THE FRUIT OF THE DRUNKEN TREE
by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Doubleday, Summer 2018
In 1990s Bogotá the Santiago family lives in a gated community, safe from the drug-fueled violence devastating Colombia. Young sisters Chula and Cassandra enjoy carefree lives thanks to this middle-class bubble, but the threat of kidnappings, car bombs, and assassinations hovers just outside the neighborhood walls, where the godlike drug lord Pablo Escobar continues to elude authorities as he in turn captures the attention of a nation.
The sisters enjoy a childlike yet morbid fascination with this just-out-of-reach danger, but when the family hires a live-in maid named Petrona from the city’s guerrilla-occupied slums, the outside world begins to creep closer. As a drought causes citywide power and water outages, car bombs kill little girls, presidential candidates are assassinated in front of horrified crowds, and grandmothers are caught in the crossfire between the warring guerrillas and paramilitaries. And in the Santiago home, teenage Petrona’s simple nature hides a dark secret that will eventually upend their lives.
Ingrid Rojas Contreras was born in Bogotá and holds an MFA from Columbia College Chicago. She is the 2014 recipient of the Mary Tanenbaum Literary Award in Nonfiction and was a 2015 fellow at the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto.