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WaPo Reviews Xochitl Gonzalez’s Latest

In ‘Anita de Monte Laughs Last,’ a dead artist finds her voice

Xochitl Gonzalez’s novel scrutinizes the racism, sexism and class elitism that dictate the hierarchy of the art world

By Reyna Grande

In her acclaimed 2022 debut, “Olga Dies Dreaming,” Xochitl Gonzalez offered an unflinching examination of power and privilege as characters of Puerto Rican descent struggled to define their identities within the power structures of U.S. society. She tackles similar issues in her new novel, scrutinizing the racism, sexism and class elitism that dictate the hierarchy of the art world.

“Anita de Monte Laughs Last” unfolds in dual timelines and revolves around two Latina protagonists. In 1980s New York, a young Cuban artist, Anita de Monte, struggles against obscurity before finally having a breakthrough moment, only to die under suspicious circumstances. Overshadowed by her famous, domineering husband, Jack Martin, Anita narrates her story from the afterlife, refusing to be silenced in death as she was when alive.

In 1998, Raquel Toro, an art history undergrad desperately trying to fit into her Ivy League school, falls for Nick Fitzsimmons, an art student from a well-connected family. As she negotiates Nick’s privileged world and researches Jack Martin for her final thesis, Raquel discovers the story of Anita de Monte and sets out to give her the recognition denied to her in life. Read the full revieew at the Washington Post.

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