I’ve been anxiously awaiting this moment. While I’m totally useless myself when it comes to graphic design, I’m enamored of cover art and love sampling it in a good bookstore. I like covers that are unusual, colorful, say something about the book inside, and have a bit of mystery to them – what is that about? Hmmm, let’s take a look . . .
So I was delighted to get the cover art for In the Wind, and to see exactly what I was hoping for – warm color, a street art aesthetic, an evocation of the rust-and-brick side of Chicago – and a nod toward the ethnic richness of the city. The Virgin of Guadalupe depicted here looks like one in the Pilsen neighborhood, one of my favorite places, rich with murals in the Mexican tradition. She’s on the side of a building on South Ashland Avenue, just north of 19th Street. The credit for this cover goes to David Rotstein (who, incidentally, earned an Arty at Left Coast Crime in 2003 for his work on the cover of Ben Rehder’s Buck Fever).
Thanks, David. You read my mind.
So, what’s La Virgen doing here? In the book, a young street artist creates a stencil that is a statement in support of Rosa Saenz, a church worker who is on the run, accused of the 1972 murder of an FBI agent who was pursuing members of a radical splinter group of the American Indian Movement. (If you’re not familiar with stenciled street art, there are loads of examples on Flickr.) As the narrator observes, the stencil was “deceptively simple, only a few lines, but it was recognizably Rosa Saenz in the guise of a much older icon, the Virgin of Guadalupe.” Before long, the stencil is copied and it’s showing up all over the city, sending a potent message: “any government that picks on a saintly indigenous woman is messing with a higher authority.”
In the Wind will be published by St. Martin’s this April – and now I know it will be well-dressed.