The Veins of the OceanPatricia Engel
4 January 2018
Published by Grove Press
2 February 2017
Published by Grove Press
WINNER OF THE DAYTON LITERARY PEACE PRIZE 2017
Reina Castillo’s beloved brother is serving a death sentence for a crime that shocked the community – a crime for which Reina secretly blames herself. When she is at last released from her seven-year prison vigil, Reina moves to a sleepy town in the Florida Keys seeking anonymity.
There, she meets Nesto, a recently exiled Cuban awaiting with hope the arrival of the children he left behind in Havana. Through Nesto’s love of the sea and capacity for faith, Reina comes to understand her own connections to the life-giving and destructive forces of the ocean that surrounds her as well as its role in her family’s troubled history.
Set in the vibrant coastal and Caribbean communities of Miami; the Florida Keys; Havana, Cuba; and Cartagena, Colombia, The Veins of the Ocean is a wrenching exploration of what happens when life tests the limits of compassion, and a stunning and unforgettable portrait of fractured lives finding solace in the beauty and power of the natural world, and in one another.
Engel has an eye for detail. She knows how to drown the reader in a sense of enchantment... She writes exquisite moments.Roxane Gay
This, mercifully, is a book as concerned with transforming the human condition as it is with the unflinching examination of its wounds... In short, it is our world, mirrored back to us, revealed anew.
San Francisco Chronicle
Engel's voice is lyrical, in a no nonsense sort of way. Her descriptive powers have improved greatly; she has an all-seeing eye that misses nothing of importance for the reader.
Beautifully wrought and vibrant, The Veins of the Ocean is a compelling meditation on guilt, nature, redemption, and the immigrant experience.
Patricia Engel's sumptuous second novel...is no wild revenge tragedy; instead, it examines a tragedy's aftermath... Engel writes with a raw realism that elevates her characters' mundane existence - their failures and failings, hopes and dreams, pleasures and pains - to something majestic.
New York Times
The Veins of the Ocean is an indelible novel of loss, grief, and redemption. Patricia Engel has created a world that is at once sensuous and dangerous, authentic and poetic, harrowing and hopeful.
In a novel that is vitally relevant today when the word refugee has such loaded connotations, Engel delivers a pulsating . . . and deeply introspective take on how family, love, and guilt can both 'chain us together' and set us free.
Engel is able to find a lightness in a disturbing story to carry the reader through the novel... Engel has crafted a detailed, rich world of vivid atmosphere and imagery . . . A dark comedy with unexpected heart.