book cover of The Last Karankawas
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The Last Karankawas

A novel by

"Vivid . . . Garza's accomplished debut enriches the public imagination of this corner of America, and the communities within." —Melissa Chadburn, The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)

A blazing and kaleidoscopic debut about a tight-knit community of Mexican and Filipino American families on the Texas coast from a voice you won't soon forget.

Welcome to Galveston, Texas. Population 50,241.

A popular tourist destination and major shipping port, Galveston attracts millions of visitors each year. Yet of those who come to drink by the beach, few stray from the boulevards to Fish Village, the neighborhood home to individuals who for generations have powered the island.

Carly Castillo has only ever known Fish Village. Her grandmother claims that they descend from the Karankawas, an indigenous Texas people once believed to be extinct, thereby tethering them to Galveston. But as Carly ages, she begins to imagine a life elsewhere, undefined by her family’s history. Meanwhile, her boyfriend and all-star shortstop turned seaman, Jess, treasures the salty, familiar air. He’s gotten chances to leave Galveston for bigger cities with more possibilities. But he didn’t take them then, and he sure as hell won’t now. When word spreads of a storm gathering strength offshore, building into Hurricane Ike, each Galveston resident must make a difficult decision: board up the windows and hunker down or flee inland and abandon their hard-won homes.

Moving through these characters’ lives and those of the extraordinary individuals who circle them, Kimberly Garza's
The Last Karankawas weaves together a multitude of voices to present a lyrical, emotionally charged portrait of everyday survival. The result is an unforgettable exploration of familial inheritance, human resilience, and the histories we assign to ourselves, reminding us that the deepest bonds are forged not by blood, but by fire.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"Devastating in its own clarity and nuance. The Last Karankawas has the power to change the way we see where we've been and what we may have left behind. A stunning debut from a talented writer." - Oscar Cásares

"The Last Karankawas is exactly the kind of book I've spent my life searching for as a Chicana of mixed and Filipino heritage. Kimberly Garza's eloquent and deeply observant debut expands our understanding of South Texas and vibrantly honors the remarkable people who live there. This is a writer to watch." - Kali Fajardo-Anstine

"The Last Karankawas is a deft and moving portrait of ordinary lives lived in an extraordinary place. Kimberly Garza's writing is warm, beautifully observed, and filled with human drama. Like all really good fiction, it opens our eyes to new experiences and shows us things we don't already know." - Ian McGuire

"With prose that is elegant and measured, sonorous and at times painfully beautiful, Kimberly Garza lays bare a Southern Texas that has somehow remained unsung until now. The Last Karankawas is not merely a book. . . It is a collection of incantations--secret and sacred, meant to be shared in a hush." - Miroslav Penkov

"Beautiful, complex, and subversive, The Last Karankawas is an important book about Texas from a powerful new voice in American fiction. I loved it. These characters and their stories will stay with me." - Elizabeth Wetmore

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