Set in the highlands of the Mexican state of Chiapas, The Book of Lamentations tells of a fictionalized Mayan uprising that resembles many of the rebellions that have taken place since the indigenous people of the area were first conquered by invaders from Europe five hundred years ago. With the panoramic sweep of a Diego Rivera mural, the novel weaves together dozens of plot lines, perspectives, and characters-the ambitious Maya shaman Catalina and her husband, Pedro, a seeker after justice; the wealthy, ruthless landowner Leonardo; Marcela, the Maya girl raped by Leonardo who gives birth to a son, and many more. In a tour de force of narrative structure, these threads intertwine as the plot drives toward a conclusion as devastating as it is inexorable. Blending a wealth of historical information and local detail with a profound understanding of the complex relationship between victim and tormentor, Castellanos captures the ambiguities that underlie all struggles for power. Her view of the world, beautifully rendered in English by Esther Allen, is devastatingly stark-a clear-eyed, unromantic vision of how misery, ignorance, and powerlessness can distort and eventually destroy the spirit.