New Books Network

Martín Prechtel

The Disobedience of the Daughter of the Sun

A Mayan Tale of Ecstasy, Time, and Finding One's True Form

North Atlantic Books 2005

New Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in FolkloreNew Books in Latin American StudiesNew Books in LiteratureNew Books in Native American StudiesNew Books in Peoples & Places February 12, 2020 Eric LeMay

Today I interview Martín Prechtel, whose work ranges from painting and drawing to overlooked histories and living languages to farming and blacksmithing and cooking...

Today I interview Martín Prechtel, whose work ranges from painting and drawing to overlooked histories and living languages to farming and blacksmithing and cooking to the six books he’s written, which cover topics so vast in genres so varied that all the short descriptions I’ve tried to give of them feel like an injustice. Let me just say that the vision in his books reaches out toward the very nature of the cosmos while it also attends to nature’s smallest spirits, to what’s holy and alive in the stones and the seeds. And running throughout this work is Prechtel’s powerful and lush talent for storytelling.

In The Disobedience of the Daughter of the Sun (North Atlantic Books, 2005), Prechtel introduces the unique stories he heard when he lived among the Tzutujil Mayan people in the village of Santiago Atitlan in the Guatemalan highlands. He writes that these stories “are alive, and being alive they are not just told at any time, but only in the dark. Though everyone by a certain age knows a version of these living stories, only certain people, those accepted storytellers, can tell them and will admit to knowledge of them, for it is in the telling only that these stories live, and being ancient, big and hungry, they must be brought to life as well.” And that, perhaps, is the best way I can introduce Martín Prechtel: he brings to life stories that live and, through them, he reveals the rich, beautiful, abundant possibilities of what it might mean for us to live the stories of our lives.


Eric LeMay is on the creative writing faculty at Ohio University. His work ranges from food writing to electronic literature. He is the author of three books, most recently In Praise of Nothing: Essay, Memoir, and Experiments (Emergency Press, 2014). He can be reached at eric@ericlemay.org.