Norton Publishers
Published by
Liveright (2022-04-26)
Current material
Final Pages
Original language
Fiction & Related items


& Other Stories

by Rubio, Marytza K.

A darkly funny and imaginative debut conjuring tales of Mexican American mystics and misfits.

"The first witch of the waters was born in Destruction. The moon named her Maria."
Set against the tropics and megacities of the Americas, Maria, Maria takes inspiration from wild creatures, tarot, and the porous borders between life and death. Motivated by love and its inverse, grief, the characters who inhabit these stories negotiate boldly with nature to cast their desired ends. As the enigmatic community college professor in "Brujería for Beginners" reminds us: "There's always a price for conjuring in darkness. You won't always know what it is until payment is due." This commitment drives the disturbingly faithful widow in "Tijuca," who promises to bury her husband's head in the rich dirt of the jungle, and the sisters in "Moksha," who are tempted by a sleek obsidian dagger once held by a vampiric idol.

But magic isn't limited to the women who wield it. As Rubio so brilliantly elucidates, animals are powerful magicians too. Subversive pigeons and hungry jaguars are called upon in "Tunnels," and a lonely little girl runs free with a resurrected saber-toothed tiger in "Burial." A colorful catalog of gallery exhibits from animals in therapy is featured in "Art Show," including the Almost Philandering Fox, who longs after the red pelt of another, and the recently rehabilitated Paranoid Peacocks.

Brimming with sharp wit and ferocious female intuition, these stories bubble over into the titular novella, "Maria, Maria"a tropigoth family drama set in a reimagined California rainforest that explores the legacies of three Marias, and possibly all Marias. Writing in prose so lush it threatens to creep off the page, Rubio emerges as an ineffable new voice in contemporary short fiction.n prose so lush it threatens to creep off the page, Rubio emerges as a bold voice new voice in contemporary short fiction.

Marytza Rubio has an MFA in creative writing: Latin America and was a Bread Loaf scholar. She is the founder of Makara Center for the Arts, a nonprofit library in her hometown of Santa Ana, California.

Available rights (1)

Language Territory Type Vendor Status
German World All

Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Marie Arendt

Available View on Rightsdesk


The airbrushing effect here is giving me Six Flags T-shirt vibes, and I love it. Also, is the friendship between a flesh-and-blood dog and a skeleton the most forbidden love of all? Watch your bones, skeleton! (Clearly this cover has led me to my own narrative conclusions, which I think is to its credit.)

Quote: LitHub, The 10 Best Book Covers of April

[A] stunning debut... While most of the stories are set in Southern California, a few reach farther afield to Brazil and New Orleans while featuring primarily female protagonists - mothers, sisters, friends, aunts, and cousins - ferociously celebrating feminine power. Rubio confects her moving, disturbing, and intense stories in a variety of styles, voices, and tones, from dark parody to heart-wrenching, grotesque, and violent yet touching. Adorned with illustrations of powerful simplicity...Teens will be fascinated by these playful and intense stories featuring young women and girls.

Review: Booklist, starred review

Rubio is an extravagant storyteller; her prose thrums with life, and her plots take hairpin turns. All of this is on full display in Maria, Maria... this is transporting work... Sprawling magical realistic stories with a moral bent.

Review: Kirkus

Mysticism and imagination run wild in Rubio's debut collection, which showcases glittering prose and a fearless approach to form and imagery... these 10 tales defy categorization and blur genre boundaries... Rubio's talent is evident, and there's such a range of tones and genres on offer that any reader will find at least something to enjoy.

Review: Publishers Weekly

Clever and incisive, these stories simultaneously beg for laughter and for sentences to be underlined.

Review: Buzzfeed, Best Books of April 2022

Interview: Culturephile: Spellbound with Marytza K. Rubio - Santa Ana writer and arts activist Marytza K. Rubio makes her literary debut with a wickedly funny, lushly evocative short-story collection, "Maria, Maria."

Quote: Orange Coast Magazine

Purveying characters (both women and animals) with otherwordly powers, Rubio steps across the thin border between life and a dangerous beyond... A vividly accomplished debut.

Review: Library Journal

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