The Man Who Could Move Clouds

Doubleday. Jul. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9780385546669. $30. MEMOIR
Rojas Contreras (Fruit of the Drunken Tree) tells of three generations of her family. Nono, Rojas Contreras’s grandfather, was a curandero, or traditional spiritual practitioner, in Colombia. In Rojas Contreras’s culture, curandero secrets are passed only to men. However, both she and her mother, Mami, gain the secrets when they develop temporary amnesia in separate cases. Both coincide with misfortunes within the family, and Rojas Contreras uses her family’s spiritual traditions to make sense of the aftermath. She explores the lives of Nono, Mami, and herself, focusing on their experiences with ghosts and premonitions, while reflecting on the differences between their traditional and knowledge learned in Western countries on spiritual matters. She also muses on the history of Colombia and analyzes the effects that the unrest may have had on her family. When she and several family members receive dreams from deceased Nono asking them to disinter his remains, they return to Colombia to do so. As they travel, Rojas Contreras reflects on the importance of stories to her family’s well-being and their collective memory.
VERDICT An eerie and introspective memoir.
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