Stories by Carol Karasik; Illustrations by Alfonso Huerta
Paperback | 128 pages
Join Chak the Rain God, Water Lily Jaguar, the Horrible White Bone Centipede, and a panoply of gods as they cavort through the ancient Maya world into the present day. Through captivating stories and lush illustrations, Maya Gods & Monsters draws on ancient myth and lore of the Maya people and gives life to wild and quirky gods, magical monsters, and strange creatures. Fifteen stories blend the natural and the supernatural into one alluring realm, reflecting the heart of the Maya people—one of the greatest civilizations in the New World.
Karasik is a deft storyteller, relaying extraordinary tales with a humorous and often lyrical voice. She includes a concise and compelling history of the Maya along with an enchanting account of the myriad sources for her stories. This auxiliary content provides context and easy access to a complex creation narrative. Maya Gods and Monsters will appeal to young adult and adult readers with an interest in world cultures and multicultural folktales as well as New Age enthusiasts attentive to Maya culture, Mexico, and Central America.
Carol Karasik has published a variety of books on Maya culture, notably Mayan Tales from Zinacantán: Songs and Stories from the People of the Bat and the award-winning Maya Threads: A Woven History of Chiapas. Her popular book The Turquoise Trail reveals the ancient connections between Mesoamerica and the Southwestern United States. She has also explored indigenous myths and literature through documentary films, multi-media theater, and a recent novel, The Drum Wars. Maya Gods and Monsters is her latest effort to introduce broad audiences to the cosmic vision of the ancient and modern Maya.
Alfonso Huerta is a native of Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico. He drew on primary sources as inspiration for these illustrations, reworking them to make them not only faithful to the Maya originals, but also flavored with his own sense of the magic of the indigenous world. He currently lives and works in Austin, Texas.
Praise for Maya Gods & Monsters ⁓ Supernatural Stories from the Underworld and Beyond
“Inspired by myths, stories and images from over two thousand years of Maya civilization and religious beliefs, Carol Karasik has given a highly readable and lively vision of the supernatural world of these remarkable people.”
Michael D. Coe Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus, at Yale University and Curator Emeritus of the Anthropology collection in the Peabody Museum of Natural History
“Author Carol Karasik manages to pass along to us both the substance and the magic in age-old tales of the amazing and sublime doings of the Maya deities. None of the fun and playfulness in the original stories is missing. Bold, evocative illustrations by Alfonso Huerta match completely with the writer’s poetic precision. A wonder and rich collaboration.”
Carter Wilson, author of A Green Tree and a Dry Tree: a Novel of Chiapas and Crazy February: Death and life in the Mayan Highlands of Mexico.
“One of the most knowledgeable and gifted storytellers, Carol Karasik weaves together wise retellings of ancient stories informed by the latest explorations of hieroglyphic texts and iconography, along with a deep understanding of the oral and written literary tradition of the Maya. What I find so refreshing about this wonderful collection is Karasik’s participation in the long tradition of Maya storytelling, and her imparting the wisdom that there are many versions. Having lived and worked as an ethnographer and epigrapher among the Maya, Karasik gloriously enters the stream of the storyteller, unafraid to breathe new life into these ancient tales with delectable prose, full of rich imagery. The accompanying illustrations by Alfonso Huerta provide a dreamy brocade, true to the colorful characters from the Mesomerican mythological tradition. I highly recommend this book for any who are interested in the ancient and living Maya, whether they be young children, experienced folklorists, or Mesoamerican specialists. This is a highly accessible collection, with the promise of introducing many readers to the little known and fascinating world of the Maya. There are, indeed, many versions, but the versions within this delightful book should not be missed!”
Michael J. Grofe, Ph.D., Research Assistant at the Maya Hieroglyphic Database Project, University of California Davis