Serafina’s Stories By Rudolfo Anaya
Book/Novel Author: Rudolfo Anaya
Book/Novel Title: Serafina’s Stories
Like Scheherezade, who ensured her survival by telling her royal husband stories, the title character in Rudolfo Anaya’s creative retelling of The Arabian Nights must entertain the recently widowed governor with legends of Nueva Mexicana, or she and her fellow captives will die.
With fresh snow covering the high peaks of Sangre de Cristo, a group of native dissidents prepare for revolt. In seventeenth-century Santa Fe, insurrection against a colony of the king of Spain is punishable by death. A Spaniard loyal to the governor names twelve conspirators. One of them is a young woman. Raised in a mission church, fifteen-year-old Serafina speaks excellent Spanish and knows many of her country’s traditional folktales. She and the governor strike a bargain: Each evening, she will tell him a cuento. If he likes it, he will release one prisoner the following day.
The twelve tales recounted here mirror the struggle of a divided country. They include the social and political symbolism behind “Beauty and the Beast” and retell “Cinderella” as “Miranda’s Gift.” Interspersed with these timeless cuentos is the story of Serafina herself, and that of a people battling to preserve a vanishing way of life under the long shadow of the Inquisition.