A blazing talent debuts with the tale of a status-driven wedding planner grappling with her social ambitions, absent mother, and Puerto Rican roots—all in the wake of Hurricane Maria
It's 2017, and Olga and her brother, Pedro “Prieto” Acevedo, are boldfaced names in their hometown of New York. Prieto is a popular congressman representing their gentrifying Latinx neighborhood in Brooklyn, while Olga is the tony wedding planner for Manhattan’s power brokers.
Despite their alluring public lives, behind closed doors things are far less rosy. Sure, Olga can orchestrate the love stories of the 1 percent but she can’t seem to find her own. . . until she meets Matteo, who forces her to confront the effects of long-held family secrets.
Olga and Prieto’s mother, Blanca, a Young Lord turned radical, abandoned her children to advance a militant political cause, leaving them to be raised by their grandmother. Now, with the winds of hurricane season, Blanca has come barreling back into their lives.
Set against the backdrop of New York City in the months surrounding the most devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history, Xochitl Gonzalez’s Olga Dies Dreaming is a story that examines political corruption, familial strife, and the very notion of the American dream—all while asking what it really means to weather a storm.
About the Author
Xochitl Gonzalez received her M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow and the recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship for Fiction. Olga Dies Dreaming is her debut novel. Prior to writing, Xochitl wore many hats, including entrepreneur, wedding planner, fundraiser and tarot card reader. She is a proud alumna of the New York City Public School system and holds a B.A. in Art History and Visual Art from Brown University. She lives in her hometown of Brooklyn with her dog, Hectah Lavoe.
"Atmospheric, intelligent, and well informed: an impressive debut." —Kirkus, starred review
"The extraordinary accomplishment of Olga Dies Dreaming is in how a familiar-enough tale—a woman seeking love, happiness, and fulfillment in the big city—slowly reveals itself to be something else altogether. It’s a book about a New York that isn’t always celebrated, the one that belongs to immigrant communities; about money, class, and political power; about one vividly-imagined family and the very idea of the American Dream."
—Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind
"In this sparkling debut, Gonzalez digs deep into the damaged heart of a family, ably dissecting the knottiness of conditional love, identity, loyalty, secrets and the very definition of home. That she manages to cover so much ground with wisdom, tenderness and abundant humor makes this book a complete joy, and I will think about its richly drawn, deeply human characters for a very long time."
—Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest and Good Company
“Olga Dies Dreaming is the story of an imperfect family shattered by secrets, grief, and abandonment, and of people who rise up, refusing to be broken. Smart, witty, and driven, Gonzalez’s Olga hustles, stumbles, falls, and eventually finds her way. An unflinching examination of capitalism, corruption, gentrification, colonialism, and their effects on marginalized people, Olga Dies Dreaming is a poignant, scalding debut.”
—Jaquira Díaz, author of Ordinary Girls
“Olga Dies Dreaming is as funny as it is insightful, as deft as it is original. In this impressive debut, Xochitl Gonzalez displays a gift for capturing the absurdity in the fabric of life. Wit and wisdom rarely combine in such a powerful one-two punch.”
—Mat Johnson, author of Pym and Loving Day
“Olga Dies Dreaming is a love letter to Brooklyn brimming with the best music, with dreams and sorrows—the stuff of real life. At turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Gonzalez gives us a gripping novel about community, family, betrayal, and the complicated inheritance of diaspora—a wild and ambitious saga that shows once again how the personal is always deeply political. An unforgettable story about finding and defending home."
—Jennine Capó Crucet, author of My Time Among The Whites
"[An] edifying debut... Gonzalez elevates this family drama with a great deal of insight on the characters’ diaspora and politics." —Publishers Weekly
"A wonderful and thought-provoking story..." —BookRiot