Books distributed by the Chicago Distribution Center
192 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2019
ISBN (pbk): 978-1-946724-22-9
ISBN (e-book): 978-1-946724-23-6
Published November 2019
Big Familia follows Juan Gutiérrez, a self-employed single father, as he navigates a tumultuous year of inescapable change. His daughter Stella is on the verge of moving away to college; his lover Jared is pressing him for commitment; and his favorite watering hole—a ramshackle dive presided over by Bob the Bartender—is transforming into a karaoke hotspot. The story is set in a neighborhood also changing, gentrification inciting the ire of the established community.
Upon the unexpected death of one of the bar’s regulars, Juan is sent reeling, and a series of upheavals follow as he both seeks and spurns intimacy, pondering the legacy of distant parents and a failed marriage and his sexuality—all the while cycling and dating, drinking at Nicks Lounge, and parenting a determined and defiant child-become-woman.
When his incarcerated father dies and Stella reveals she’s pregnant, Juan is forced to examine the emotional bonds that both hold and hinder him, to reassess his ideas of commitment, of friendship, of love. His encounters with various characters—his mother, his ex-wife, a middle-aged punker, an aspiring acupuncturist, a dapper veteran—lead Juan to the realization that he himself must change to thrive.
This is a story of making family and making mistakes, of rending and of mending. As a Latinx queer father with a mixed-race daughter, Juan exemplifies the ways identity connects and divides us. With wit, insight, and tenderness, Big Familia explores the complexities of desire, devotion, and the mysteries of the heart.
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About the Author
Tomas Moniz is a Latinx writer living in East Oakland, CA. His debut novel, Big Familia, was a finalist for the 2020 PEN/Hemingway and the LAMBDA. His new novel, All Friends Are Necessary, is forthcoming from Algonquin Books. He teaches at Berkeley City College and the Antioch MFA program. He has stuff on the internet but loves penpals: PO Box 3555, Berkeley CA 94703. He promises to write back.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Author
Praise for Big Familia
2020 PEN/Hemingway Award Finalist
2020 Lamda Literary Award Finalist
2019 Foreword INDIES Finalist in LGBTQ+ Fiction
“Moniz tells a story that is simultaneously timeless and quite timely. . . . Diverse characters and a deeply likeable protagonist make this a standout debut.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Without ignoring societal ills – racially charged police violence, incarceration bias, aggressive gentrification, generation gaps – Moniz creates a broadly diverse cast on the verge of transformation. Testing options, pushing past comfort zones, and welcoming new bonds result in a big familia well worth getting to know.”
“Big Familia looks seriously at race, sexuality, class, and more, while never losing its warmth and charm.”
“Multilayered, multiethnic, and pretty much multi-everything.”
“Big Familia is a timely and entertaining exploration of family, sexuality, race, and community.”
“A sharply observed exploration of empty nesting, gentrification, and intercultural intimacy.”
—East Bay Express
“Tomas Moniz’s ability to portray the complexity of the contemporary family in zines and short stories is legendary. And this long-awaited debut novel is everything fans have come to love in his work and more. Set in the gentrifying Bay Area, Big Familia is deeply personal and lyrical, at once exploring shame, the politic of care, and the meaning of belonging. These characters are people we know—awkward and bursting with all the hurt and love of being fully human. If you’ve never read Moniz before, you’ll be an instant fan. If you’re a longtime reader, you’ll be so happy to come home to this novel.”
—Ariel Gore, author of We Were Witches
“Big Familia is about so many American families—intercultural, gay, straight, divorced but still loving each other with imperfect ferocity.”
—Michelle Cruz Gonzales, author of The Spitboy Rule
Featured in Oakland Magazine.