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Prayers for the Stolen Hardcover – 6 Feb 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Hogarth (6 Feb. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781090173
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781090176
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.5 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 149,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jennifer Clement's new novel Prayers for the Stolen was awarded the NEA Fellowship in Literature 2012 and will be published by Hogarth (USA and UK) in February 2014. The book has also been purchased by Suhrkamp, (Germany), Editions Flammarion, Gallimard (France), De Bezige Bij (Holland), Cappelen Damm (Norway), Hr Ferdinand (Denmark), Bonniers Förlag (Sweden), Laguna (Serbia), Euromedia (Czech Republic), Ikar (Slovakia) Lumen (Spain/Mexico), Guanda (Italy), Like (Finland), Libri (Hungary), Bjartur (Iceland),Rocco (Brazil),Israeli Penn Publishing (Israel), Muza (Poland) and Sindbad (Russia).

Jennifer Clement studied English Literature and Anthropology at New York University and also studied French literature in Paris, France. She has an MFA from the University of Southern Maine.

Clement is the author of the cult classic memoir Widow Basquiat (on the painter Jean Michel Basquiat) and two novels: A True Story Based on Lies, which was a finalist in the Orange Prize for Fiction, and The Poison That Fascinates.
She is also the author of several books of poetry: The Next Stranger (with an introduction by W.S. Merwin); Newton's Sailor; Lady of the Broom and Jennifer Clement: New and Selected Poems.

Jennifer Clement was awarded the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) Fellowship for Literature 2012. She is also the recipient of the UK's Canongate Prize. In 2007, she received a MacDowell Fellowship and the MacDowell Colony named her the Robert and Stephanie Olmsted Fellow for 2007-08. Clement is a member of Mexico's prestigious "Sistema Nacional de Creadores." She was President of PEN Mexico from 2009 to 2012. Along with her sister, Barbara Sibley, she founded and directs The San Miguel Poetry Week.

Product Description


"Prayers For The Stolen is stark and brutal, but not without happiness. “Mexico is a warren of hidden women”, says Jennifer Clement. This book is a way of seeing them" (Stylist)

"Every sentence in Prayers for the Stolen is direct, potent, unexpected; twisting on the page like a knife in the gut… This work also gives us all of a novel's pleasures – a story laden with significance and drama and meaning, a keen feeling of relationship between reader and characters, a fully realised world through which we may roam" (Kirsty Gunn Guardian)

"[Clement] shows the black comedy in the details and the emergency in the broader picture" (Gaby Wood Telegraph)

"Bleak, but beautifully written… Clement's prose is luminous and startlingly original. The sentences are spare and stripped back, but brilliantly manage to contain complex characters and intense emotional histories in a few vividly poetic words. Her portrayal of modern Mexico is heartbreaking; a dangerous and damaging environment for women, but her portrait of Ladydi and her refusal to be one of the lost girls is defiantly bold and bravely uncompromising" (Eithne Farry Sunday Express)

"Ladydi’s irreverent voice sings off the page and there are laughs to be had as she relates her mother’s drunken wisdom and seeks to find a way to live" (Cathy Retzenbrink Metro)

Book Description

It was Paula’s mother who had the brilliant idea of digging the holes. My mother said that the State of Guerrero was turning into a rabbit warren with young girls hiding all over the place…

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ray Garraty on 26 Mar. 2014
Format: Hardcover
Protagonist, a girl named Ladydi Garcia Martínez, lives with her mother in a remote Mexican village of Guerrero in the jungle. Being a young girl in Mexico is not easy: learning about the existence of a beautiful girl, drug traffickers immediately want to kidnap her. That's why the girls' mothers make their daughters ugly, making them boy’s haircuts, putting them into second-hand clothes, banning cosmetics, and not letting anyone anywhere. In case, if the village hears the sounds of approaching traffickers’ jeeps, mothers immediately hide their daughters in a specially dug for such cases hole in the yard. These holes are in every yard.

Women in general have a harder time, especially in the absence of men. There are hardly any men in the village. A lot of men work in big cities, and those who are more gifted and more trickier leave for the United States to work there as gardeners or handymen. So it happened with Ladydi’s father, who initially worked as a bartender at a hotel in Acapulco, then moved to work in the United States, from there at first sent money to the family, and then suddenly stopped. Ladydi always loved her father, but the last time she saw him, the image of the perfect dad had been destroyed by her mother.

Ladydi’s mother, already drunk, told her daughter that her father slept with half the female population of the village. Moreover, Maria, one of Ladydi’s girldriends, is an illegitimate daughter of Ladydi’s father.

It’s hard to believe, but this seemingly full of violence story is rather funny thing. This effect is achieved due to the voice of the narrator Ladydi. Girl’s humor is a way to protect herself against the cruel world which she lives in.
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By BookWorm TOP 500 REVIEWER on 22 Dec. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
'Prayers for the Stolen' transports the reader to a village in Guerrero state, Mexico, where the men have all emigrated and the women eke out a living in a lawless land terrorised by drug barons. The narrator is Ladydi (literally 'Lady Di'), a young girl whose mother pretends she is a boy in the hope that she will not be 'stolen' - kidnapped and sold as a sex slave. Her three best friends are all in the same boat. Their mothers even dig holes that the girls can hide in if the men in SUVs come calling.

The writing conjures up the heat and vibrancy of the Mexican jungle very vividly. I could almost feel the humid air and see the red ants swarming. It is a very good, if not very flattering, depiction of a hot, tropical place. The characters are very real and believable, and almost exclusively female, which makes an interesting dynamic. The women here aren't stereotypically 'strong' - they are just women, getting on with things as best they can - but it would probably be a good book to study from a feminist/gender studies perspective.

Not only is the place well evoked, but the way of life there and the fatalism of the people. No one would dream of calling the police when they find a corpse outside their house or when their child is kidnapped. And the reader understands this just as the characters do - they are powerless, unprotected by the state and at the mercy of both lawmakers and lawbreakers. When they aren't hiding from gun-toting gangsters, they are fleeing government helicopters dropping toxic herbicide indiscriminately over them. I don't know enough about the country to know if this is an accurate depiction or not, but it is believable and ties in with the occasional news stories about this region.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Frances James on 30 Mar. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An excellent book. It is written with great empathy for the central characters. It is a chilling account of the horrors facing so many Mexicans, particularly women, but it also manages to celebrate their strength and their capacity for love.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By An Avid Reader on 7 Mar. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is one of only two Kindle titles I have ever pre-ordered. I did so on the basis of Jamie Bing's recommendation as a must-read for 2014 and am extremely glad I did.
It explores a world where young and beautiful girls are stolen by the omnipotent drug cartels to be sold or used; where the police are lawless and corrupt; a mountain community which is almost exclusively female because all the men leave for America, never to return.
It's beautifully written - amidst the brutality and desolation of Ladydi's world, Clement's often poetic prose shines. Phrases and metaphors linger in the mind. Despite the harsh environment (geographically and sociologically) Ladydi is a resilient, feisty and witty protagonist, providing much-needed humour - and hope - among the bleakness.
The suffocating fear of the all-powerful 'narcos' and the hopelessness of the situation was so effectively realised that while one part of me reeled in horror & disbelief, the other was completely immersed in that world..
Not an easy read in terms of subject matter - and all the better for that. It is illuminating, thought-provoking, touching and heart-breaking.
Ladydi's resilience and humour and the mutual support the women and girls share prevent Prayers for the Stolen from being unremittingly bleak. Highly recommended for those who like an intelligent, multi-layered read.
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