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The Lesser Tragedy of Death


The highly anticipated debut poetry collection from the best-selling author of Dreaming in Cuban.

$15.95 $11.96

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What people are saying…

The Lesser Tragedy of Death is a brave and moving tribute to a brother gone astray. With skill, unflinching honesty, and redemptive compassion, Cristina García tracks his marvelous, complex, and errant life . . . These poems are the beautiful, painful, astonishing result of a journey to hell and back in search of the brother she loves. With this first book of poems, Cristina García, one of our best novelists and storytellers, proves herself to be a talented poet as well.”
—Julia Alvarez, author of Saving the World

“Cristina García has the courage to look tragedy in the eye without flinching . . . In spare, luminous brushstrokes of language, García paints a series of portraits, from the boy who fell off a bicycle to the desperate mugger wrestling with an old woman over her purse. The cumulative effect is haunting, yet ultimately redemptive. There is power in García’s insistence that we see her brother as a human being, in all his complexity and mystery. You won’t forget these poems, or the story they tell.”
—Martin Espada, author of The Republic of Poetry


Black Goat is an independent poetry imprint of Akashic Books created and curated by award-winning Nigerian author Chris Abani (author of Becoming Abigail and Song for Night). Black Goat is committed to publishing well-crafted poetry with a focus on experimental or thematically challenging work. The series aims to create a proportional representation of female poets and non-American poets, particularly poets from Africa.

In a collection of poems that is part biography, part dialogue, part history and part chorale, The Lesser Tragedy of Death aims to capture the ephemeral, brutal life of one unnamed “brother.” His sister’s voice provides the narrative thrust—probing, questioning, regretful—revisiting scenes from their past and arguing with her brother over the family legacy and her complicity in his demise.

What happened that led this gentle, generous boy to a world of drugs, homelessness, and crime? What upheavals, personal and political, spun their lives in such radically different directions? Who bears responsibility? The sister tries to piece together their stories from discordant shards, hearsay, speculation, witnessing. Her reports are contested by the brother, corroborated by unreliable others, undermining the nature of inquiry itself.

Book Details

  • Paperback: 95 pages
  • Published: 5/1/10
  • IBSN: 9781936070015
  • e-IBSN: 9781936070794


CRISTINA GARCÍA is the author of several novels including Dreaming in Cuban and A Handbook to Luck, anthologies, and books for young readers. The Lesser Tragedy of Death is her first collection of poetry. García’s work has been nominated for a National Book Award and translated into a dozen languages. She is a Visiting Professor and Black Mountain Institute Teaching Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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