Brando Skyhorse

The Madonnas of Echo Park

The Madonnas of Echo Park
ISBN-13: 9781439170847

“Brando Skyhorse brings a chronically invisible community to sizzling, beguiling life . . .
With this debut novel, Skyhorse has earned comparison to Sherman Alexie, Junot Diaz and Sandra Cisneros . . .
In The Madonnas of Echo Park, Skyhorse claims the disparate elements of his life and spins them into gold.”

The Oregonian


An interview with Brando Skyhorse

The Madonnas of Echo Park is perfect for your book club!

Read an excerpt.

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Author letter to readers.

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Praise for The Madonnas of Echo Park

“The hard, bitter grit of life in Echo Park, especially for women, is made quite wonderful by warmth and bright color, humor and compassion; in its keenly felt insight into the human condition, Echo Park is the world: this is who we are, like it or not. Altogether a terrific book by a highly accomplished new author — where has he been?”
—Peter Matthiessen, National Book Award-winning author of Shadow Country and The Snow Leopard

“Brando Skyhorse writes with great compassion and wit (and a touch of magic) about the lives of people who are often treated as if they are invisible. The stories that make up this novel weave together to create a complex and vivid portrait of a Los Angeles we seldom see in literature or film. The Madonnas of Echo Park is a memorable literary debut.”
—Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply

“In its depiction of what amounts to a parallel social universe The Madonnas of Echo Park provides a master-class in non-linear narrative, written with imaginative generosity and emotional precision, poignant, brutal and refreshingly unsentimental. Brando Skyhorse has what can’t be faked: talent. His book is an understated triumph.”
—Glen Duncan, author of Death of an Ordinary Man and I, Lucifer

“In this gorgeous and suspenseful book the admirably talented Brando Skyhorse takes his readers to a kingdom that he has made very much his own, Echo Park, California. I loved reading about his richly imagined characters, both Mexican and American, and how their lives intersect with our much more familiar versions of Los Angeles.”
—Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street & Eva Moves the Furniture

“A beautiful sweep of Los Angeles, told through multiple viewpoints that showcase Brando Skyhorse’s breadth. The Madonnas of Echo Park is a terrific journey, where characters re-emerge unexpectedly until by the end, the book has created a full and vivid world.”
—Aimee Bender, author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt and Willful Creatures

“In this insightful book, Brando Skyhorse reveals himself to be a trenchant and passionate observer of the forgotten underclasses of Los Angeles. He’s fashioned a desperate La Ronde for Echo Park and a requiem for the ’80s.”
—Glen David Gold, author of Sunnyside and Carter Beats the Devil

“[A] most entertaining first novel. Skyhorse certainly nails the people and the spirit of the very vibrant historical neighborhood of Echo Park. It is more than just a part of old Los Angeles, it is a character in its own right that you want to truly befriend by the end of the book. The Hispanic men and women who live, love and die in those streets are made palpable and rendered genuine thanks to the deep consideration that the author has for them. Nothing sounds false or forced in these stories that are funny and heartbreaking, surprising and affecting. It is a familiar truth all the while becoming an original evolution of people and place, each of them always moving to the music that makes their dreams.”
—Marie du Vaure, Vroman’s, Pasadena, CA

“Reminds me of Olive Kitteridge/Chris Cleave . . . In reading The Madonnas of Echo Park it’s like each chapter could stand alone as a short story; however, each chapter fleshes out more of the storyline which reminded me of Little Bee. The book was truly amazing.”
—Susan Barthold, Barnes and Noble, Jenkintown, PA

“What can I say? S&S has discovered another truly gifted writer. I really, really, loved this book. The lives of the unseen people, bus drivers, cleaning ladies, waiters etc., are shown to be as colorful, meaningful, and intense as the most famous among us. I loved the way this author could take a simple enough subject, such as looking for a lost dog, and make it interesting and real! The image of the little Madonnas, singing on that street corner will remain with me for some time. These people became real for me and I cared deeply about what happened to each of them. I became lost in Echo Park, longing for a place I’d never been, the sights, sounds, smells . . . This book will definitely become a book club pick for us, as there is no lack of discussion material. Thank you, Wendy. A five star rating for you and the book!!!!!!!”
—Margaret Holdman, Borders, St. Louis

“With spare tight prose and spare tight pieces, Brando Skyhorse takes LA’s Echo Park and raises it to the level of, say, Lethem’s Brooklyn or Proulx’s West. With a bit of Marquez’s magical realism and a lot of heart, Skyhorse presents us with a side of Mexican American life often ignored. Diverse voices wind together and apart to good effect, with a bittersweet close.”
—Jenn Northington, Breathe Books, Baltimore, MD

“I just finished The Madonnas of Echo Park and wanted to write to you as soon as I collected my thoughts— Not so easy since it resonated on so many levels. It is truly a beautiful book and Skyhorse captured so much that is unique about LA better than I have ever seen done before. He got the smog-filtered light, the smells that mix desert and ocean, and the particular gravity of a place where everybody comes from somewhere else, no matter how long they’ve been here. I loved how each story added tiny layers to the previous stories as you saw them flitting across in the background. So many books have painted a great picture of 30’s LA that people still carry around in their heads. And I’ve read some good ones of contemporary LA, but mostly Westside-type affluence. The Madonnas of Echo Park really shows the huge percentage of LA life that people have no idea about but which really is a major contributor to this city’s “feel.” It’s that mix of dreams and disasters that create the LA that people feel but don’t understand why they feel it, if that makes sense . . . How can such a sunny place be so dark?? And btw, who knew that Morrissey was such an icon in LA’s Mexican subculture?”
—Kristine Williams, Barnes and Noble, Encino

The Madonnas of Echo Park is an extraordinary book. I was captured by the writing — ease with storytelling, lively lyricism, and unforgettable characters. I can’t recall a novel that captures the spirit of a place so well. Through his attention to generational stories, Skyhorse strikes a perfect balance between nostalgia and looking forward. I finished reading it a couple of days ago, but I have just gone back and reread the first couple of chapters. It is so interesting to read, now that I know how their lives intersect, seeing all of the background characters, knowing now that they have captivating stories of their own. The book, it seems to me, is unique in its structure, the community it describes, but mostly it is unique in its quality. And what characters! Aurora Esperanza, Rosa, and Duchess are unforgettable. The bus driver, the hustler, the lady who speaks to the Virgin Mary, poor Mrs. Calhoun, Hector, Juan, and the many many others who live in the neighborhood (live in the book) are each drawn with such care and attention.”
—Mark LaFramboise, Politics & Prose, Washington, DC

“What a wonderful book. It brings to the forefront a people who are virtually unnoticed by society, something I never realized. More than that, this book truly shows how intertwined our lives really are by leading us through a journey of everyday lives and revealing how entangled we truly are with each other, even complete strangers. I literally could not put it down.”
—Lisa Hartman, Barnes and Noble, Willow Grove, PA

“I absolutely loved The Madonnas of Echo Park! I was teary-eyed . . . The stories ravel together like a string of kites, each one intertwining and tangling with the next, until they have become one, aggregated mass of colors . . . lives, histories, relationships that somehow all make sense. I love how everything comes together . . . .vignettes that make sense once the characters’ paths cross — completing the mystery and filling in the holes that leave the reader feeling both reconciled and even a bit addled at the connections and relationships. Beautifully written . . . .and even more beautifully woven. I’m looking forward to his next book.”
—Guinevere Platt, Vroman’s, & Communications Manager, SCIBA

“Thank you so much for sending me The Madonnas of Echo Park. What a powerfully well written book. Each chapter connects to another making the characters so vibrant and real. Skyhorse shows Mexican-American life so colorful and intense that you feel that you are right there in Echo Park. What an important book this is! Thanks again.”
—Jennyfer Davis, Barnes and Noble, Long Beach, CA

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