“Suzan Still’s Fiesta of Smoke is an extraordinary book, encompassing a vast time frame yet bringing the possibility of a contemporary Mexican revolution to vivid life through its beautifully tuned, disparate voices. With a tonality that at times echoes the quiet grace of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, matched by passages that have the psychotic edginess of Breaking Bad, Fiesta of Smoke is a book that will both compel and seduce you to read it to its haunting conclusion.”– Alexander Stuart, author of The War Zone and Life On Mars
“As with the brush of a muralist, Suzan Still has captured 50 years of the history of Mexico in vivid color. This passionate, non-linear novel explores the lives of three very different people involved in decades of political upheaval, and sounds the depth of injustices done for centuries there. Gripping in its detail, and daring in its reach, Fiesta of Smoke is a moving portrayal of the disparate cultures and complexity of a turbulent, beautiful country.”
– M. E. Hirsh, author of Kabul and Dreaming Back
“Fiesta of Smoke chronicles the empowerment of women and indigenous peoples in Mexico. Powerful, poetic writing brings alive vivid characters who stride through one of the great dramas of the twentieth century. . . . The women of Fiesta of Smoke have known terrible hardship and loss, yet, through courage and a united front, they rise above these to prevail. Fiesta of Smoke honours love on many levels, not the least of which is the love of freedom.”
– Gillian P. Herbert, author of Spare Scenes
“Suzan Still’s Fiesta of Smoke is a literary tour de force that explores how long-suppressed and marginalized people are rising phoenix-like from the ashes of their sacrificial fires. The smoky wings of these transfigured beings are gallantly abroad in the pages of this book. Feminine energy especially is emerging as a force to be reckoned with in every aspect of global life. Fiesta Of Smoke is an exquisitely written and powerfully rendered chronicle of divine feminine resurrection.”
– Julie Loar, multiple award-winning author of Goddesses For Every Day
“In Fiesta of Smoke, Suzan Still has composed an epic tale unlike anything I’ve ever read. While the overarching love story, which is entangled in Mexican history and politics, is deliciously compelling, Still’s brilliance shines when she drops her story back in time and place into a sequence of nesting tales, one inside another like Russian dolls. These beautifully crafted segments deposit the struggle of Mexico—and the lovers themselves—into the context of a far-reaching historical conflict. Fiesta of Smoke is a book that moves, instructs, and enriches; it is at once intellectually challenging and sweetly vibrant.”
– Patricia Harrelson, author of Between Two Women and The Right Sisters
“Novelist and storyteller, Suzan Still, delivers a love story that is an intense, fast-paced journey as she carries her readers through five decades of Mexico’s building revolutionary fervor. Her multilayered characterizations, poignant and explosive, keep her fans intrigued as the force of the story continues to build. Not since Gone with the Wind have readers been treated to such a star-crossed and passionate love as that between Javier Carteña and Calypso Searcy. Fans of Ms. Still will remain on the edge of their seats with the addictive power of Fiesta of Smoke.”
– L. L. Nielsen, author of Lasso the Stars
“Fiesta of Smoke investigates the profound secrets of Mexican history and probes the mysteries of life with a keen and humanistic eye. The choreography of the three protagonists of Suzan Still’s second masterful work is an epic calligraphy: the brush is singing and the ink is dancing. Full of sudden rebounds and surprises, the rhythm of her writing explodes on the page. Like a samouraï, she enters the depth of wounds and love with a passionate elegance, not afraid to reveal the unknown, to interrogate and distill life’s essence.”
– Sylvie Carnot, Château de La Rochepot, a Medieval Revival (Les Editions du Palais, Paris)
“Fiesta of Smoke defies words in its intensely gorgeous prose, riveting conflicts, illusive and yet mesmerizing visions and descriptions, passionate scenes of hate and love, misunderstandings, inspiration and so much more. This is a story that rather than being based on real life was based on a life that inspired a later Mexican revolutionary. STUNNING, MUST, MUST READ!!!”
– Crystal Book Reviews
“Suzan Still does a wonderful job at writing a novel that just flows and draws the reader in. There’s plenty going on here, with characters that jump off the pages as the story is told…. I recommend this one to readers who enjoy diving into a good book and living within its pages for a while.”
– The Bookworm
“This book was a blast to read and I loved every minute of it.”
– It’s All About Books
“Proved a literary adventure for me. I do not believe I have ever read anything quite like it – and I mean that as a compliment.”
– Read. Write. Repeat.
“A unique love story between two enchanting characters who draw you into their world fully…. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and I want to read more by this talented author.”
– Suko’s Notebook
“A fascinating look at a period and a conflict I knew very little about. I would definitely recommend this novel to readers interested in this area of the world, or who just want an engrossing and well-written work of fiction.”
– As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves
“Beautifully written…this book reads like an opera, truly”
“If you’re interested in Mexican history, the fight for independence, or even just a good love story, pick up Fiesta of Smoke.”
Against a backdrop of rebellion and intrigue, love between Javier Carteña, commander of insurgent Mexican forces, and Calypso Searcy, an American novelist at the pinnacle of her career, sizzles with passion across a broad sweep of history. Encompassing time from the Conquest of the 1500s to the present, the story races across space as well, from the forests of Chiapas to the city of Paris. There, an international investigative reporter named Hill picks up the swiftly vanishing trail of Calypso’s disappearance, and unwittingly becomes involved in one of the great dramas of the twentieth century and one of the great love stories of any age.
Read an excerpt here.
“Still’s writing smolders with volatility, authenticity, and intelligent femininity. Set in Mexico, Fiesta of Smoke skillfully captures with layered nuance the importance of women healers, of traditional medicinal methods, and sensitive portrayals of Mexico’s landscape and the dynamics shaping it today.”– Tammy Horn, author of Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation and Beeconomy: What Women and Bees teach us about Local Trade and Global Markets
Suzan Still holds a masters in art and writing, and a doctorate in depth psychology. This unique combination of poetic vision and deep insight into the human condition informs her fiction and infuses it with its remarkable colors. Because of this, she inspires inventive descriptions of her work. Of her first novel, Commune of Women, Single Titles suggested that readers prepare to "laugh, cry, and gasp," while noted author Alexander Stuart compared her second novel, Fiesta of Smoke, to a combination of Love in the Time of Cholera and Breaking Bad. We suggest you sample her yourself here and make your own comparisons.
“Break out the Margaritas, chips and salsa, Suzan Still’s new novel, Fiesta of Smoke, is reason to celebrate! The great mythical sweep of the book, its stunning descriptions of Chiapas, and the human dramas that unfold will waft you away as you read. The book embodies Still’s love of the country and her profound grasp of people, their strengths and foibles. Add some guacamole and settle back for a great read!”– Hope Werness, author of The Continuum Encyclopedias of Native Art and Animal Symbolism in Art