2021 Winner of the Texas Institute of Letters’s Sergio Troncoso Award for Best First Book of Fiction
What throws us into the path of those we love, and what pulls us apart? What agency powers the universe—and do we have any agency of our own to create a world different from the one powerful others have planned for us?
From the belly of the South Texas boom-and-bust-extraction beast, read the award-winning debut work of climate fiction The San Antonio Report describes as “eerily prescient.”
“Exploring the poetics of land, labor, and social movements in descriptive terms, Luz offers a wealth of insights on environmental justice[.] … Rich, lyrical prose constantly refers back to power itself, calling our attention to the forces that shape us. … A South Texas story for organizers, scholars, poets, and lovers.” —Nic Yeager, The Texas Observer
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Deeply embedded in the landscapes of South Texas, Luz at Midnight tells the story of an ill-timed love that unfolds in the time of climate change. Booksmart but naïve, Citlali Sanchez-O’Connor has just been hired to organize a San Antonio campaign against “gleaning,” a controversial new mining practice that promises a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. In the process, she soon encounters Joel Champlain, a journalist struggling to hide his manic-depression as he uncovers the corrupt politics that surround gleaning. During a chance trip together to Texas’s Gulf Coast, Lali is struck by a love as powerful and sudden as the electrical storm that birthed Luz, the unearthly canine trickster who has thrown them together. But Lali—married with a baby, poised to leave town for an academic job, and trained to think everything is explicable—finds she must decide what their connection means, if anything, for a path already set in motion.
A genre-hopping narrative that layers story with reporting, poetry, scholarship, and teatro, Luz questions the nature of desire and power—along the way considering the humorous (and not-so-humorous) inner workings of the nonprofit industrial complex; Newtonian and Quantum theory; and the perambulations of birds and dogs. Luz also centrally explores what we call mental illness, including the possibility that love may be pathology, while madness may open some important window into the nature of reality.
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“Lyrical and hypnotic, Luz at Midnight is one of the most thought-provoking love stories I’ve ever read.”
–Denise McVea, Author of Making Myth of Emily
“Puro San Anto at its environmental and social justice core.”
–Kamala Platt, Ecojustice Public Scholar, Author, and Educator, School of Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies at the New College of ASU
“Through descriptions of environment racism and colonization, Cortez reveals how even a love destined to fail helps us along our personal journey. Enjoy the humorous scene with Sandra Cisneros’s dog…”
–Lisa Justine Hernandez, Associate Professor at St. Edward’s University and founder of ThisBridgeCalledCyberspace.com