For the 150th anniversary of Willa Cather's birth, and for the first time in Penguin Classics, her quietly beautiful novel of one man's life as he encounters the harsh landscape of the New Mexico desert and the people who inhabit it, with an introduction by National Book Award finalist Kali Fajardo-Anstine
A Penguin Vitae Edition
In 1848, following the US's recent acquisition of the American Southwest from Mexico, the young bishop Father Jean Marie Latour receives instruction from the Vatican to oversee a newly created diocese in New Mexico. With his good friend Father Joseph Vaillant in tow, the pair travel through the unforgiving and seemingly-endless desert on mules in attempt to reclaim the region from corrupt priests who have taken mistresses, exhibited greed, and inflicted abuse and genocide on the Mexican and Indigenous residents. But as Father Latour spends more time in New Mexico with the people who have inhabited and influenced it for centuries, he begins to realize that the task he was sent to do is more complicated than anticipated. Rather than leave, though, Father Latour decides to stay and uphold his commitment to the Church and his faith, and gains an eye-opening perspective along the way. Written in 1927 at a time when Cather herself was expanding her own ideas of race, religion, and gender, Death Comes for the Archbishop remains a moving account of one man's physical and spiritual journey of understanding in naturalistic prose as sparse as the desert plains.