LONGING: a novel by Maria Espinosa


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Arte Publico Press, Houston, Texas, 1995, 298 pages

Longing is a psychological novel focusing on a young woman’s dependence on her husband and finally her attempts to forge an independent life for herself and escape their unhealthy relationship. Rosa, a frail, sensitive American Jew living in Paris, marries an alcoholic expatriate from Chile and finds herself trapped in a sado-masochistic relationship. After the birth of their daughter and reunion with her parents in the U.S., Rosa’s implicit trust in Antonio to direct her life begins to wane. Gradually, Rosa gains confidence in her pursuit of self. The novel deal with how people help both create and destroy each other. The novel won an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation in 1996. It has been published in a Greek edition under the title “Love Scriptures” by Stathis Press.

“Longing, “an immensely moving and intelligent book, describes with great depth and compassion the process of individual evolution . . . the connection to our fellow creatures that we have been trying for ages to deny and at the same time longing for. . .”


“The story, taken in its entirety, is a serious and interesting study in perceptual relatives. The focus is near obsessional: Is Rosa the victim or is Antonio?”

—PENNY SKILLMAN, San Francisco Chronicle


Excerpt from Longing:

Antonio was pleased by the sight of the masts rising up in the yacht harbor. On the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge with its dark orange girders there were the tall, pale buildings of San Francisco. Seen from afar, it had the quality of a fairy tale city. The fresh salt air filled Antonio’s lungs. Waves lapped against the sand.

How good it was, Antonio thought, to be by the sea again as he had been all during his childhood. Something harmonious and strong that he had left behind on the Chilean coast many years ago seemed restored to him. Perhaps here he and Rosa would begin a new life.

Blue sky. Water. A special quality of golden light in the air which reminded him, too, of Chile.

. . . “At the bars I meet people,” said Antonio. “I learn American ways.”

“You never drank in Santiago,” said Juan.

“I drink only a little beer and wine to calm my nerves. In the bars I learn English . . . I’m in a new country. The customs and the people are strange. I do things with my own rhythm.”

. . . In the No Name Bar and in the Seven Seas he had met well-educated men as well as those from working-class backgrounds who worked with their hands and bodies for a living. With his quick wit and manual dexterity, he could be taken on informally as an apprentice.

Why was it difficult to get into the unions, he wondered? Wasn’t this the land of opportunity? He didn’t understand this country at all. The slang expression “oh boy”—how indicative it seemed. A country of boys and girls. They had not been hardened yet by suffering. They did not want to acknowledge their maturity but wished to remain adolescent forever. There was something wrong about those values.

He pulled out his cigarettes and lit one. His hands trembled as if they were not attached to him as he held the cigarette between his lips while he poured himself the rest of the chenin blanc.