The Portuguese in the Americas Series aims to contribute to the growing field of Portuguese-American Studies. The Series documents the variety and complexity of the Portuguese-American experience by publishing works in the social sciences, history and literature.
Distant Music
University of Massachusetts Press
Distant Music
Two Novels: The Gunnysack Castle and The Death of Mae Ramos
Julian Silva

Tagus Press at UMass Dartmouth

2007 . 552 pp. 6 x 9"
Fiction & Literature

$29.95 Paperback, 978-0-9722561-9-3


Two discretely shaped yet interdependent narratives creating a family saga from the viewpoints of both maternal and paternal lines (a difficult and rarely successful strategy for fiction) comprise this large and capacious novel. Distant Music begins in the nineteenth-century and extends well into the twentieth, a diptych retelling the story of the Woods and Ramos families and their descents in rough-and-tumble California. In crisp, succinct, and often elegant prose, rich in deftly selected detail, Julian Silva celebrates not only the resilience of men and women confronted with failure but—even more important—he adumbrates the compromised morality of their achievement.

The Gunnysack Castle was first published by Ohio University Press in 1983. A study of the character of Belle Bettencourt was published by Cosmopolitan Magazine in March 1964.

The second section of The Death of Mae Ramos, "Vasco and the Other," was originally published in 1979 under a different title and in a slightly different form in the University of Colorado's Writer's Forum 6.


“... the women in the book are complex, vulnerable, proud, silly and wise; in other words, they are real people and their lives and their stories are affecting and memorable.”
- San Jose Mercury News


“A first novel with a ring of authenticity.”
- The Fresno Bee

“Praise for The Gunnysack Castle by Julian Silva: ‘The rise of an anglicized Portuguese is chronicled in a weaving of many strands the immigrant experience, the place of women, the ambience of the nouveau riche that makes a voluptuous tapestry of life and richly satisfying first novel... This is a compelling novel of Portuguese assimilation into the American mainstream.”
- Publisher's Weekly

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