Zelestina Urza in Outer Space
By David Romtvedt
For a sixteen-year-old immigrant from a Basque village, northern Wyoming, on a cold February day in 1902, seemed as distant and barren as the moon. Zelestina Urza, who had left her impoverished family, had no idea what lay ahead of her. How would she make a life out of what seemed like less than nothing? In his new novel, David Romtvedt, the Pushcart Prize-award winning author of A Flower Whose Name I Do Not Know, and Wyoming poet laureate, draws the reader into a complex portrait of the immigrant experience in the American West. Zelestina's life story is interwoven with that of her close friend Yellow Bird Daughter–a young Cheyenne Arapaho woman–a lifelong relationship that overcomes obstacles and spans cultural differences. Romtvedt's sharply humorous style, full of pop and literary references, blends the historical and magical into an engaging conversation with the reader. Zelestina Urza is an engaging account of Basque immigration and a piercing look at the American West of the twentieth century, showing two women, one immigrant, one native, both outsiders from the traditional narrative of the Manifest Destiny.