When We Return is on a Great Escapes Tour, which I recommend for any crime and mystery author-bloggers. I had vowed not to take any more new books to review, but I just couldn’t resist this–even though the review won’t be until at least July. I’m interested in the more recent history of Chile – you may remember my review of a Long Petal of the Sea.
Please welcome Eliana Tobias who’s here to talk about her books today–and there’s a Giveaway at the end!
About When We Return
When We Return: A Novel
River Grove Books (May 17, 2022)
Print length : 297 pages
ASIN : B09ZBN14ML
Who should be held responsible for public wrongs?
By 2008, it finally seems that the Peruvian government is ready to make amends to its citizens following the violent guerilla movement of the last three decades.
Otilia and Salvador, a mother and son torn apart during the conflict and separated for twenty years, are eager for the government to acknowledge he their pain and suffering, but they hit a roadblock when the government denies responsibility in their legal case.
Things begin to look up when Otilia meets Jerry, a kind man and the son of Jewish parents who escaped the Holocaust. Grappling with his own upbringing and the psychological struggles his parents endured, Jerry is just the person to empathize with Otilia’s situation. Together, Otilia, Jerry, and Salvador must support one another through the turbulent journey that is healing from historical trauma, and through it, they must find the courage to rebuild their lives and open themselves up to love and companionship.
Artfully weaving together different timelines and countries, Tobias examines the nuanced topic of grief a community endures after a collective tragedy. In this exploration of the culture of remembrance following displacement and loss, we discover what happens when our past calls us back to what we must do to achieve justice and reconciliation when we return.
“Eliana Tobias has managed in this moving and intelligent novel to show us two characters who, coming from very different worlds, at the end are telling the same story. The story of disarray, discrimination, and injustice. Showing us as well that hate is everywhere and the only antidote we have is memory and love.”
—Carla Guelfenbein, Alfaguara-award winner and internationally recognized author of eight novels including In the Distance With You
About the Author
Eliana Tobias was born in Santiago, Chile, to immigrant parents who had escaped the Holocaust. She graduated from the University of Chile and later completed graduate degrees in the US and Canada. After working in the field of education in various capacities, including teaching at the National University in Trujillo, Peru, she discovered her love of writing.
Eliana’s rich experience of political turmoil—listening to stories of the Holocaust when Jewish communities in Europe had been shattered, losing family in Chile under military dictatorship, and living in Peru during a time of intense civil conflict—fueled her passion to write about the ways people caught in devastation find to rebuild their lives. Eliana’s first novel, In the Belly of the Horse, received an award from the International Latino Book Awards in 2018 and was also nominated for the Latino Book Into Movies Awards. Eliana splits her time between California and British Columbia.
Meet Eliana Tobias
Hi Eliana, thanks so much for today.
Obviously we’ve just read your bio, but is there anything you’d like to expand on there?
Eliana: I was born in Santiago, Chile and was spoken to in German and Spanish as a child. I went to an American elementary and high school in Santiago where instruction was in English. I went to college in the US and completed a graduate degree in Canada.
I developed a social conscience as a teenager, working with children in an underprivileged neighborhood then in a literacy program with adults. Wanting to share all I learned as an educator in North America, I accepted a job in Peru. There I created strong bonds with the people I interacted with. I traced through various regions of the beautiful country and immersed myself in Peruvian archeology and history.
Why did you pick to write historical fiction?
To entertain and educate readers about Latin America. I lived in Peru in a time of turmoil and wanted to inform readers about a particular period of time in its history when thousands of people were displaced, and thousands disappeared due to deadly conflicts.
That’s what piqued my interest; I was at college with a woman from Santiago who had ‘lost’ relatives. What do you do for relaxation?
I like to read books that entertain and teach me about a topic (or culture) I am not familiar with
When I am not writing I like to walk, bike, hike, exercise. I like the theater, movies, music, and I like to read!
What other books have you written?
My new book is called “When We Return”, and it’s about Who Should Be Held Responsible for Public Wrongs.
I wrote a first novel called “In The Belly of the Horse” about a Peruvian family that gets separated during a time of civil war. When I finished, I still had many unanswered questions. I asked myself – How do families that survive harrowing socio-political events – like for example the mothers and children leaving Ukraine, or those fleeing persecution in Afghanistan, Syria, Myanmar, make out? What emotional challenges do they face?
Both books are related but they also provide an interesting read as stand-alone novels.
Yes, this issue of separation is an important one. Some people seem to think refugees are fleeing for greedy motives. What are you working on next?
I have identified a theme for my next book and have begun doing some research but it’s still a bit early for me to discuss it. Right now, it’s all about getting “When We Return” to interested readers.
Have you any advice for authors?
Be patient, be persistent, write and rewrite, don’t be overly critical and be kind to yourself. If you have something to say, express yourself and carry your project forth to completion.
I like the ‘don’t be overly critical!’ Anything else readers should know?
I am interested in exploring issues of human rights and the principles of justice as I see that injustice and discrimination is tearing the world apart. By learning about how people overcome challenges that besiege them, maybe we can develop respect and empathy for them.
I’ll agree with that. Thank you so much for your time today.
Thanks for your questions!
Author Website – https://elianatobias.com/