Saturday 28 October 2017, 2pm: Come visit Old Capitol Books to hear Edward Moncrief discuss and sign copies of his new novel, Raising the Blackbirds, a historical fiction about immigrant farm workers, set in the Salinas Valley during the 1970s.
About Raising the Blackbirds
The Mexican dicho “You raise the blackbirds, and they pluck out your eyes” captures succinctly Mexico’s four-hundred-fifty-year history of treachery plotted and blood spilled both by its leaders and by those in rebellion. The saying likewise captures this story, entitled Raising the Blackbirds; Mexican history and cultural, vibrant still in the blood and flesh of its people, propels the narrative to its soulful yet redemptive conclusion.
Sixto Torres narrates his journey from childhood in Mexico to his immigration to Rio Grande Valley. Eventually, in order to support his growing family, he joins the migrant stream to California. Sixto and his family arrive in Salinas in early 1970 just as César Chavez is challenging the power of the Valley’s growers.
Sixto and his fellow farmworkers organize for better wages and greater power over their living conditions, but Sixto’s leadership talents are driven in a different direction when he and his labor-camp neighbors are evicted by their employer. Sixto is soon organizing a new effort focused on the Valley’s deplorable farm labor housing conditions. He seizes a rare opportunity to purchase and rehabilitate an abandon labor camp. His fight to gain the knowledge and skills needed to overcome daunting cultural, political, and social obstacles—and to bring his fellow farmworkers along in the process—is successful; but Sixto is less able to overcome distrust, jealousy, and opposition among some among his own community.
Raising the Blackbirds will appeal to readers of literary, historical, and immigrant fiction that references the ancient and near past for a deeper understanding of our current world. Sixto’s story will also appeal to millions of second-generation Mexican-Americans whose parents and grandparents were a part of the great post-War migration to the U.S. and who fought to overcome deprivation, discrimination, and distrust in order to find greater opportunities for their children.
About the author
Moncrief has lived a varied and interesting life, act in roles as diverse as being a Franciscan cleric and being the founding executive director of Community Housing Improvement Systems and Planning Association, Inc. (CHISPA), working to build housing for farmworkers in the ’80s and ’90s – important work that the association continues today.
Now retired, Moncrief is focusing on creative efforts. His freelance writing has appear in the Monterey Herald, the Salinas Californian, and Western City Magazine. He is also a singer and song writer.