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Branigan hosts author Mary Morris in January Zoom


Thomas Branigan Memorial Library will host a Zoom discussion with author Mary Morris 12:30-1:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21.

Morris, an award-winning author, will discuss her novel, “Gateway to the Moon,” the story of a remote New Mexico town coming to grips with a history it never imagined, the City of Las Cruces said in a news release.

“Gateway to the Moon” is a 20th-century story of the ancestors of the mythical northern New Mexico village La Entrada (gateway) between Santa Fe and Taos, the news release said. “It begins in 15th-century Spain and moves forward to the discovery of America and the migration of descendants of the Columbus voyages to Mexico and then to the New Mexico Territory. It highlights the torture, pursuit and resistance of the Jewish people from The Spanish Inquisition to 20th-century New Mexico.”

The city and Branigan Library called the book “a beautiful novel of shared history, a moving and memorable portrait of how the traditions of home and community, sometimes unknowingly, persevere.”

“My family and I moved to New Mexico in 1990 and lived in Santa Fe for a year while I was working on another project,” Morris said. “As Rachel does in ‘Gateway to the Moon,’ I hired a babysitter who, after a time, began to ask questions about our Jewish practices. He told me that he believed his family's origins were Jewish. At the time, historian Stanley Hordes was starting to publish his work on the crypto-Jews. It was an idea I held on to for a long time until 2014 when I decided to embrace this project. I chose a fictional town, Entrada, because I am a storyteller, not an historian and it gave me more creative freedom to do so,” she said.

In addition to talking about the book, Morris will discuss her research techniques, writing style and methods and her other award-winning work.  Her most recent book, one of NPR's Best Books of 2020, “All the Way to the Tigers,” was published in June 2020.

Morris, 73, is a native of Chicago. She published her first book, a collection of short stories titled “Vanishing Animals & Other Stories,” in 1979 and was awarded the Rome Prize in Literature by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Morris has since published other collections of short stories, as well as novels and travel memoirs. She and her husband, author Larry O'Connor, edited an anthology of women's travel literature, “Maiden Voyages.” Her novel “The Jazz Palace,” won the 2016 Anisfield-Wolf Award in fiction.

“Whether writing fiction or non-fiction, Morris sees herself as a storyteller, weaving tales,” according to her website, www.marymorris.net.

To be added to the Zoom invite list for the discussion, send an email to sagelibrary@las-cruces.org with “Gateway” as the subject.